2 Thessalonians 2:3 “A falling away” or “THE falling away”?
2 Thessalonians 2:3 “A falling away” or “THE falling away”?
“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”
A Bible agnostic railed against the King James Bible and posted a "Laundry list" of alleged errors he copied and pasted from an anti-King James Bible site that is pro-Textus Receptus and pro NKJV, but claims there are many errors in the King James Bible.
Among their Laundry List of alleged errors is 2 Thessalonians 2:3 where the KJB says “except there come A falling away first” and the NKJV says “unless THE falling away comes first”.
These King James Bible critics raise a big stink about how the KJB does NOT translate the definite article “the” before “falling away”. Throughout their article they WAY overstate their case and come up with some really wild claims.
They tell us: “A textual error occurs when translators supply or omits words which are not in the Greek text with no indication, such as italics, that a word has been added, or a reference to word(s) not translated. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, the KJV Translators failed to translate the definite article -the- preceding the Greek word for ―apostasy in the Textus Receptus. ―The apostasy refers to a specific event at a specific point in time—the great apostasy of the Church from the faith of Jesus Christ prior to the Tribulation period. Only the Coverdale Bible and the New King James Version (NKJV) translated the definite article ―the - which is in the Greek text. Bible versions which fail to translate the definite article in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, diminish the magnitude of the end time apostasy, thereby facilitating false teachings which limit the end time apostasy to the ecumenical movement. Some modern versions (NIV, RSV, NLT, CEV, Good News) mistranslate ―apostasia as rebellion, which changes the falling away from the Word of God to a revolt against man‘s authority.”
These Textus Receptus promoters are wrong on several counts, but at least they have some kind of a definite standard you can pin them down on. What they are totally missing is the FACT that there is no such thing as “the” Textus Receptus. There are about 25 different varieties of the TR and they all differ from each other textually.
And “the” TR they are upholding as their “final authority” didn’t even exist until 1894 when Scrivener back translated the King James Bible into the Greek textual readings they followed, be it Erasmus, Stephanus or Beza. Usually is was the Greek text of Beza.
So these TR guys are putting the cart in front of the horse.
There WAS no exact “the” TR they are using, until AFTER the King James Bible was finished. They have to somehow believe that the TR the King James Bible translators ended up with was right, but their translation of it was wrong. When in fact it was the English translation that determined what was to be these KJB critic’s “the TR”.
Secondly, like most Bible agnostics and unbelievers in the inerrancy of ANY Bible these KJB critics confuse the Word of God (the Lord Jesus Christ) with “the word of God” - his written revelation.
See my article Don't Confuse "the Word of God" with "the word of God"
They say: “…which changes the falling away from the Word of God to a revolt against man‘s authority.”
The Word of God is the Lord Jesus Christ; it is not the written word of God which is the only source God has given us that tells us who the Word of God is, what he taught and what he did to redeem his people.
And NOBODY, not even these KJB critics, really believes the NKJV or any Bible in any language IS the complete and inerrant words of God.
See Is the NKJV the inerrant words of God? Not a Chance!
So who is it that is potentially part of this “falling away” that will happen before the glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ? Is it the KJB critics who have NO complete and inerrant Bible to believe in themselves or to give to anybody else, or the King James Bible believers?
Thirdly, they show their ignorance when they talk about the use of the definite article and their NKJV. The NKJV OFTEN puts a definite article in their translation that is NOT there “in the Greek”, and they OFTEN OMIT IT in their translation when it IS there. So too do versions like the ESV, NASB, NIV, NET, Holman, etc.
Here are some examples. If we look at the NKJV in 2 Thessalonians 2 verses 1 to 14, (which is not even the whole chapter), we see that the NKJV translators did NOT translate the definite article THE when it IS in the Greek some 14 times.
And 7 times they PUT the definite article IN their translation when it is NOT in the Greek text!
Just a few of these 14 times where the definite article is IN the Greek but NOT translated by the NKJV are “shaken in THE mind”, “son of THE perdition”, “temple of THE God”, “revealed in his THE own time”, "by the spirit of THE his mouth", “working of THE Satan”, “with all THE unrighteous deception”, and “by our THE gospel”.
And the places where they ADDED the definite article THE but it is NOT in the Greek text are “according to THE working of Satan”, “beloved by THE Lord”, “God from THE beginning”, “sanctification by THE Spirit and belief in THE truth”, and “for THE obtaining of THE glory”
So, you see, they do not even follow their own artificial rules whereby the condemn the King James Bible.
Fourthly, there is no “big difference” in meaning at all between saying “for that day shall not come, except there come A falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed” and “unless THE falling away comes first”. They both mean the same thing.
These KJB critics are making a mountain out of a molehill and seeing “error” where none exists.
Not only does the King James Bible say - “except there come A FALLING AWAY first” (or, A departure) but so also do the following Bible translations.
Tyndale 1524 “a departure”, The Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549 " A departing", the Bishops’ Bible 1568 -“A falling away”, the Geneva bible 1587, The Beza N.T. 1599 - “A departing first”, The Bill Bible 1671 - “A falling away first”, the Whiston N.T. 1745, The Worsley N.T. 1770, The Clarke N.T. 1795, The Improved N.T. 1809, the Webster Bible 1833, The Pickering N.T. 1840 - “A falling away first”, The Commonly Received Version 1841, the Julia Smith Translation 1855, The Smith Bible 1876, Godbey N.T. 1902, The Clarke N.T. 1913, the Bible in Basic English 1961, The Word of Yah Bible 1993, the 21st Century KJV 1994, The Revised Webster Bible 1995, The Third Millennium Bible 1998, the New Simplified Bible 2003, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, Christogenea N.T. 2009 “apostasy”, The Jubilee Bible 2010, The Hebrew Transliteration Scripture 2010, The Bond Slave Version 2012 and The Modern English Version 2014 - “For that Day will not come unless A falling away comes first”
Lamsa’s 1933 translation of the Syriac Peshitta - “for that day shall not come, unless it is preceded by A rebellion”
New Life Version 1969 - “For the Lord will not come again until many people turn away from God.”
The Living Bible 1971 - “first, there will be a time of great rebellion against God”
J.B. Phillips New Testament 1972 - “there arises a definite rejection of God”
God’s Word Translation 1995 - “a revolt takes place first”
Worldwide English N.T. 1998 - “Before the day of the Lord comes, many people will stop believing God.”
The Tomson N.T. 2002 - “except there come A departing first”
Conservative Bible 2010 - “That day won't come until there is A rebellion and the sinful man is shown for who he is, the son of destruction”
The Work of God’s Children Bible 2010 - “for unless there come a revolt first”
Names of God Bible 2011 - “unless a revolt takes place first”
New International Reader’s Version 2014 - “That day will not come until people rise up against God.”
The New Living Translation 2015 - “For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God”
The King James Bible has NO errors in it at all, and these “Textus Receptus, NKJV” folks are the ones who are wrong in attacking God’s Infallible Book and promoting an inferior bible version that not even they themselves believe is the inerrant words of God.
Side Note - Another Weird Theory - "The Departure is the Rapture"
I have run into a couple of really weird Bible correcting guys who tell us that not only is the Greek word "apostasia" incorrectly translated as "a falling away" or even "the apostasy" but they tell us that it should be translated as "the departure" and that this supposedly means "the Rapture".
How anyone could read the context of verses 1 thru 3 and come up with this goofy idea is beyond me, but some do.
Verse one refers to the "rapture" when it says: 1. "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, AND BY OUR GATHERING TOGETHER UNTO HIM (this is the rapture), 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 (the coming of our Lord and our gathering together unto him) except there come A FALLING AWAY first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition."
IF the "falling away" or "the departure" is really referring to "the rapture", as these false teachers tell us, then the Scriptures here would be teaching that the day of Christ and the rapture can't occur until the rapture happens first!
Duh. False doctrines always end up making the Bible contradict itself.
The Greek word apostasia is only found twice in the N.T. The other place is in Acts 21:21 "And they are informed of thee, that thou teacheth all the Jews which are among the Gentiles TO FORSAKE Moses, saying they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs."
The word clearly means to abandon, to fall away from, to forsake and to leave behind something that previously was held to be true and valid.
ESV, ISV 2014, NET - "For that day will not come, unless the REBELLION comes first"
NKJV, NASB, Holman Standard 2017 - "For that day will not come unless the APOSTASY comes first"
There are several other Greek words God could have used here if he had meant to say "departure" or to move from one place to another, but they are not used here. For example: "his hour was come that he should DEPART out of this world unto the Father" (metabaino) John 13:1; "DEPART hence, and go into Judea" (metabaino) John 7:3; "Having a desire to DEPART and to be with Christ" (analuo) Philippians 1:23 or "Paul DEPARTED from Athens, and came to Corinth", "Claudius had commanded all Jews to DEPART from Rome" (korizo) Acts 18:1-2.
The King James Bible is right, as always.
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 8:8
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