by James Sundquist

Is Apostasy and Aphistemi Physical or Spiritual?


Does the Greek word for Apostasy refer to the Rapture Departure or Departure from The Faith?

This question about whether “apostasia” (apostasy) can ever be physical is so profound and central to the question of the timing of the Rapture, that it inspired me to dig even deeper into Scripture and history to prove whether or not “apostasia” could have ever meant physical departure.  Some of this I have seen debated by scholars, but some of my findings I have never seen argued before.  This question is important because it determines who is deceived, and whether or not the meaning of “apostasia” collapses Pre-wrath, Mid- and Post-Tribulation Rapture arguments.  But it is also critical for another reason: Is the departure active or passive?  If passive, it is something done to us by an outside source, as would be the case for the Rapture, where the outside source is the Lord doing the action to catch us up in the air.  However, if the departure means departing from the faith, that is active, because the person or people would be choosing to rebel and abandon or reject the faith.

Pre-tribulation scholars and pastors are sometimes accused of holding on to some Greek training that they learned in seminary; and that they live in a bubble and won’t be open to debate.  So I decided that I would also contact some top Greek scholars in the academic world, who not only read and write Greek but also know Ancient Classical Greek as well as Koine Greek (the New Testament).  In addition, I dug up actual manuscript translations of documents in which the Greek terms below were actually used.  My challenge was to document and find one single example in which “apostasy” as used in the English translations of Scripture ever meant physical movement or departure (both in Scripture or in any other historical context).  And what I discovered is not just a bombshell revelation but a 7 megaton nuclear revelation to me.  It may be one of my most profound discoveries in 50 years of studying Scriptures.   My heart is only to refute the arguments of my brothers in Christ, and hopefully rescue them with a life preserver, which I am sure is their intent with me!

In order to do this, I first asked a foremost Ancient Greek scholar, Stephen Colvin in the United Kingdom, what the original meaning of the word “apostasis” meant.  He said this:

    “Its core meaning is separation” Stephen Colvin, PhD., Professor of Classics and Historical Linguistics, Dept. of Greek and Latin, University College London

Initially, I discovered how Hippocrates defined the word three to four centuries before Christ (460-370 B.C.).  Physicians to this day take the Hippocratic oath, which my father also took.  Hippocrates was considered the “father of Western medicine.”  Here is Hippocrates’ own definition of apostasis (which I looked up after reading the medical definition of apostasis [apostasy]):

    “ἀπόστασις/apostasis: the process of recovery from a disease is often associated     with the collection and removal of morbid  humours (peccant material) from the     …”  

    HIPPOCRATES, Places in Man. Glands. Fleshes. Prorrhetic 1-2. Physician.

    Use of Liquids. Ulcers. Haemorrhoids and  FistulasLCL 482: 10-11

Note that Hippocrates clearly defines the word to unequivocally mean the physical removal of growths in the human body such as hemorrhoids (English).  Many people have had them; my father often removed them from his patients.  It only takes seconds to remove one (if external), and only minutes to stitch up and suture; so even though not in the twinkling of an eye, it would certainly not take days, weeks, or years.

And here is the medical dictionary definition of “apostasis”:

    • “noun In old medicine: The termination or crisis of a disease by some secretion or

    critical discharge, in opposition to metastasis, or the termination by transfer to some

    other part. An apostem or abscess. The throwing off or separation of exfoliated or

    fractured bones.”

Fractured bones that are separated are called broken bones (i.e., what once was one bone is now two, and hence why you need a cast).   This separation can be either passive or active; on purpose or by accident.  You can do it to yourself, or a person or car can hit you which breaks your bones.  I broke my left wrist high-jumping over a tennis net while skateboarding!  Now contrast this with this quote by Pre-wrath Rapture defenders and Pre-tribulation adversaries: 

“Moulton and Milligan’s, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament Illustrated from the Papyri and Other Non-Literary Sources, it is demonstrated that this term is only used in the political or religious defection sense—again, never used in a spatial departure sense (pp. 68–9).”  

No other use of the word apostasis in any other context than political or religious?  Really?  Isn’t medical another sense besides political or religious?  And please tell me: What revolt in political or religious history was not in itself also a physical departure? Isn’t physical removal spatial departure?  Liddell and Scott’s lexicon A Greek-English Lexicon indicates that departure is a secondary definition meaning, but only applicable in the 6th Century AD.  However, Hippocrates used the term apostasis to mean physical removal centuries before Christ.  This is fuzzy math confusion!  So Moulton and Milligan, Henry Liddell and Robert Scott, and all Pre-wrath Rapturites that use those citations to defend their view in order oppose Pre-Tribulation Rapture, are indicted by their own testimony; as both Hippocrates and Galen refute and contradict their definition.  This is not just a subjective opinion, but factual forensic evidence, and not some obscure anomaly or aberration.

As a physician, my father performed a host of surgeries during his 30+ years of licensed practice.  I often heard him explain how cancer could metastasize, meaning spread throughout the body; usually, this meant that cancer had become terminal and it was too late to save the patient.  The antonym of metastasis is “apostasis,” which means to separate, as in physically removing the malignant tumor, which very often would be in time to save the life of the patient.  And again, this surgery only took hours, not days or years to cut away (separate) the tumor.  So wouldn’t this make the perfect analogy and term for Paul to use to describe the separation of the church from the malignant world, eternally saving the saints (patients)?  In the case of the Rapture, what is being removed or separated is what is healthy, while what is left is what is malignant.  Apostasy doesn’t just mean physical departure, but separation.  Now if people depart from the faith, they certainly do fall away, but that is not what the Greek word apostasy means.  And Christian fathers in the Church age knew this!  Paul intimately knew Greek, was in Greece and knew and debated Greeks.  It is impossible that Paul was clueless to the true meaning of the word apostasia when he used that word in 2 Thess. 2:3.  The more I studied this, instead of gravitating towards Pre-wrath Rapture, I actually think Paul could not have chosen a better word to describe and prove Pre-tribulation Rapture!  AMEN!

I dug even deeper into Scripture on this subject.  Redefining the word “apostasia” as “falling away,” is a subjective eisegesis interpretation of that word.  It is NOT a literal translation.  Even John Calvin’s Geneva Bible translates apostasia as “departure,” NOT “falling away.”  However, Calvin does not use the term to mean what we now refer to as the Rapture, but rather to demonstrate that he is referring to departure from true Christianity as he describes in his commentary.   The Greek word apostasia appears only twice in the New Testament.  The first appearance is in Acts 21:21 (highlighted in bold with forsake as a verb):

“And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.”  Acts 21:21

Apostasia fits perfectly to mean that the Jews were accusing Paul of “separating” from the law of Moses.  But the English word “forsake” used in many of the most reputed English translations is NOT a correct translation of apostasia.  The Greek word for forsake is ἐγκαταλείπω egkataleipō (Strong’s G1459).  See the Ancient Greek Lexilogos Dictionary Definition below under LSJ 1940.  Note that its original meaning is “to leave behind.”  So if you replace the word forsake in Acts 21:21 and 2 Thess. 2:3 where the word apostasy is used, with this Greek word you are plugging in “leave behind.”  But left behind is what happens to everyone not raptured (not departed).  The verb forsake can be good or evil depending on the context.  And even though a Greek word can have opposite meanings and context is critical, it is also very important to note when meaning or interpretation is NEVER used in the original Greek.  Strong’s definition (see “to leave behind” in bold font):

 “ἐγκαταλείπω enkataleípō, eng-kat-al-i’-po; from G1722 and G2641; to leave behind in some place, i.e. (in a good sense) let remain over, or (in a bad sense) to desert:—forsake, leave.”

The Disciples left their nets to follow Jesus and the Israelites forsook Egypt which is good, but the people forsook Jesus and Paul which is evil.  “Forsaking one to let him go into Hades, abandon unto Hades,” Acts 2:2731 is a righteous act.  Depending on the English translation, the combined occurrences of forsake, forsaken, forsaking, and forsook are 237 times total in the Old and New Testaments.  And forsaking, just like apostasia and aphistemi, can be physical or spiritual, or both.

I thought that discrediting the Pre-wrath definition of Apostasia was sufficient to refute this position, which it is.  But it’s the definite article “the” (or “ho” in Greek), that doubly disproves their argument! Ironically, Pre-wrath defenders use “the” (or “ho”) to defend Pre-wrath Rapture during the Tribulation to mean THE Falling Away or THE Departure from The Faith.  If there is only one forsaking, then by logic, both occurrences of apostasia in Scripture must be THE forsaking!  But there can’t be two.  And if there is only one, as in 2 Thess. 2:3, where it is used as a noun; then Acts 21:21 forsaking of Moses can’t be true, because that would make two forsakings.   Many anti-Pretribulation Rapturites clamors that you can’t use the same word for verb and noun.  Yet that is precisely what they do in using apostasia as a verb in Acts 21:21 and as a noun in 2 Thess. 2:3.   If 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is “the” apostasy, it would have to mean “the” one and only forsaking in all of Scripture.  There could be none other!  If that is true, then the Father did not forsake the Son on the Cross, making Jesus a liar because this would be a second forsaking!  In truth, Christ was not just forsaken by his Father in Heaven, but by his own people, the Jews, whom he cursed in the Fig Tree Parable because they should have known of His coming as the Messiah.  His being forsaken also led to the judgment of the apocalyptic siege and destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., in Jerusalem, which led to the Great Dispersion, all because of a departure of the faith! You can’t have dispersion without a physical spatial scattering of the Jews to the ends of the earth!  So if “the” apostasy means “the” forsaking, how do you outrank Christ’s Crucifixion and the Destruction of the Temple?  How would you have two colossal forsakings that precede the so-called singular one and only forsaking falling away that supposedly launches the Great Tribulation?

Jesus, the Messiah, came in THE fullness of time at his genealogical birth (Matthew Chapter 1) and Galatians 4:4.  And indeed His being born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit, is the only First Coming.  However, the fullness of time also applies to both His First Coming as well as His Second Coming.  But there is a third major forsaking, and that is the forsaking of the Jews themselves for two thousand years in what became known as Replacement Theology or Supercessionism (that the Church is Israel), which paved the way to the slaughter of millions of Jews, culminating in the Holocaust.  No other so-called Christian doctrine has resulted in more devastating persecution and executions. And wouldn’t this insult Paul, too, who wrote Thessalonians because he said he was forsaken by Demas and many others?    If there can only be one and only “the” forsaken, I will choose to take Jesus Christ’s being forsaken by the Father on the Cross, because without it, we are still dead in our trespasses and there would be no forgiveness of sins without this singular substitutionary atonement. The Forsaken is The Sacrifice.  But the fact remains that there have been multiple forsakings throughout the history of the church!!

In Acts 21:21, certainly the Jews also did forsake Moses both physically and spiritually, but again that is not the Greek definition being used.  The context gets even more specific and forensic in detail when considering circumcision in the law of Moses.  When an infant’s foreskin is surgically cut off (again conforming to the Greek medical definition of apostasis), it is physically separated and removed; it doesn’t just fall off, and this procedure is instantaneous and not prolonged.  Paul was graphic and blunt when he told the Pharisees that he would that they cut the whole thing off, i.e., castrate themselves.  To do this, Paul again certainly didn’t mean “I would that you take as long as it takes for the entire organ to fall off (fall away).”  This would be preposterous!  My father circumcised about 1,000 infant baby boys whom he had delivered.  If I were to say him: “Dad, didn’t you mean you ‘fell away’ the foreskin of the male infant?”  He would rightly respond with: “What?…son, I don’t think you understand the true meaning of the word ‘circumcise.’  It can only mean ‘cut’ and ‘remove.’  If it meant ‘fall away,’ I could stand there the rest of my life, and it would NEVER fall off on its own.  When you grow, up, I think I should take you with me to be a witness to actually observe the surgical medical procedure, so you will never forget what it truly means, and never again be confused!”  So this is precisely what  needs to be taught to every Christian who still believes the word “apostasis” means “falling away.” “Apostasis” instead, actually means physical separation (the Rapture) and therefore, it has to mean Pre-Tribulation Rapture in 2 Thess. 2:3.  It is time to spiritually circumcise (cut and separate) the hearts of our brothers and sisters in Christ from this false interpretation of Scripture!

Having looked up every occurrence of the word “forsake” and its derivatives, I then spent extensive time doing a word search in Scripture in order to discover the Greek meanings and contexts for the use of the terms “fall away,” “fallen away,” and “falling away.”  All Christians, whatever your positions are on eschatology, should ask this question: “Doesn’t the Apostle Paul warn the church about falling away?” Absolutely! But it is not the word he used in Greek in 2 Thess. 2:3, even though most modern English versions interpret apostasia as falling away.  Here is the Scripture (English translation of apostasia I highlighted in black font):  

“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 Thess. 2:3

Pre-tribulaton Rapture opponents insist that apostasia means falling away in the original Greek.  It does not.  However, I will concede that it can mean “revolt” and it can mean physical departure (see Ancient Greek Lexilogos Dictionary definition below).  But revolts or revolutions are not always evil; they can be righteous rebellions.  It is not wrong that God revolts from the Prince of Darkness and the Prince of the Power of the Air’s kingdom which is the whole earth, confirmed in the Temptation of Christ.  Later, Jesus commanded Satan to physically depart from Peter when he said “get thee behind me Satan!”  Just as it is incorrect to plug in “forsake” above, it is incorrect to plug in “falling away.”

greek, falling away, departing, bible verses, strongs, g868,

I searched the Blue Letter Bible for every occurrence of “fall away,” “fallen away,”  “falling away, and “fell.”  I was very surprised with what I found.  It is not as though Luke or Paul didn’t know the Greek word they could have used in that passage for falling away; and Paul used it in many other passages when he meant falling away from the faith where the Greek word meant depart.  It could be physical departure or spiritual departure, or a combination of both.  But it wasn’t necessarily evil.  In some cases it was just a fact of physical departure with no moral implication.  In other cases, it clearly was a moral use in the context.  Since Paul also gave details as to what he meant in context, by departure, there remains no confusion what he meant. Here are all of the New Testament passages which are translated as fall away (except the two which use the word apostasia).  

Paul and Luke use is the Greek word ἀφίστημι (aphistēmi)

The word that Paul and Luke use is the Greek word ἀφίστημι (aphistēmi).  Like Hippocrates, Luke was a physician and wrote the book of Luke and is attributed by scholars to have written the Book of Acts.  Koine Greek was THE common language of physicians in the Roman Empire and the First Century.  One out of the only two uses of the word apostasia in the New Testament was written by Luke; and 10 out of 15 verses or two-thirds, employing the word aphistemi were penned by Luke.  Luke was Paul’s traveling companion (and Paul wrote the only other use of the word apostasia).  So it is inconceivable to me that Luke, as a trained physician, would not know who Hippocrates was, so he would know full well the meaning of apostasia to choose that word in Acts and why he would use aphistemi in both Luke and Acts.  Even the word aphistemi does not literally mean “fall away” but “departure,” or “stand apart at a distance.”  The “fall away” expression normally has a negative connotation of defiling oneself (or selves). In fact, apostasia and aphistemi are almost interchangeable because they both mean “remove.” However, when aphistemi is used figuratively or spiritually, it also certainly means a great falling away from the faith!  So let’s look at the passages more closely. The G868 is the Strongs Concordance Number for the word “aphistemi.”  The word occurs 15 times.  Note that 12 out of the 15 occurrences mean to depart physically or withdraw.  And even the three verses which I highlighted in bold that are spiritual departure would certainly also mean a physical departure.  I highlighted in red font the words below in which aphistemi is the underlying original Greek language.  Here are the 15 passages:

15 Uses of the Greek ἀφίστημι (aphistēmi)

“And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed G868 not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.”   Luke 2:37

“And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed G868 from him for a season. ”  Luke 4:13

They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. G868  ”  Luke 8:13

“But he shall say, I tell you,  know you not whence ye are; depart G868 from me, all ye workers of iniquity.”   Luke 13:27

“After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away G868 much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.”   Acts 5:37

“And now I say unto you, Refrain G868 from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:”   Acts 5:38

“When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed through one street; and forthwith the angel departed G868 from him.”  Acts 12:10

“But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed G868 from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. ”  Acts 15:38

“But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed G868 from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.”  Acts 19:9

Then straightway they departed G868 from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.”   Acts 22:29

“For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart G868 from me.”   2Corinthians 12:8

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from G868 the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; ”  1 Timothy 4:1

“Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. G868”   1Timothy 6:5

“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let G868 every one that nameth the name of Christ depart G868 from iniquity.”   2Timothy 2:19

“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing G868 from the living God.”   Heb 3:12

Fall Away, Departing, Morally Neutral

Note particularly that the word depart is talking about such individuals as a widow who worshipped the Lord, an angel, and Paul himself who all three physically departed.  Surely, no one in their right mind is going to accuse them of falling away!  I entreat you to go back and plug in the phrase “fall away” in every verse above, and see, in many cases, how farcical the meaning would then be rendered.  In addition, Acts 13:13 describes Mark as physically and spiritually abandoning Paul.  The English word used is “deserted” but the Greek is “aphistēmi.”  Therefore, the Greek word in and of itself is morally neutral.  So it all depends on the context and description surrounding the word.  Departing can be a good thing or a bad thing, as is obvious in the above passages, just like the word apostasia which means separate, where separate is a morally neutral noun and verb.

For example, how about the word “bend?”  If I told someone they are “bending the truth,” that would accuse them of lying.  But you have to bend a bow to shoot an arrow.  One is bad and one is good.  Or how about the word “rock?”  When you tell someone “man, you rock!” it’s slang for high-fiving, or the highest commendation for someone simply as a person.  Musicians know it’s a compliment when after a concert someone says “you rock!”  However, if you were to walk up to a harpist in the Jewish Temple at the time of Solomon and tell them: “You rock, man!” they would be totally clueless about what in the world that meant!  But “rock” takes on a different powerful meaning if someone asks me: “Who is your rock?”  I would answer that “Jesus is the Rock of my salvation!”  So the use of apostasia and aphistemi all depends on the context. “Falling away” is not the root meaning of either one of the two words.  The original Greek is correct, but the translations are not translations; rather, they are private subjective interpretations, now public, as Peter warned against!

Luke the Beloved Physician use of Greek

Luke was not just Paul’s companion, but apparently also his physician whom Paul called “the beloved physician” (Col. 4:14).  It is hard to imagine that Paul would not obtain medical counsel from Luke.  Here is a list of the medical terms (in Koine Greek) that Luke used in the Book of Luke and Acts that are not used the other three Gospels.  A few terms below are used in other Scriptures, but not in a medical physician or diagnosis context.  These are the exact terms in Greek that Hippocrates used in his medical definitions.  They were later used by Galen (129-210 AD) of Pergamon in Turkey, the famous physician and heir apparent to Hippocrates in the Second Century after Luke.  Galen also used the Greek word aphistemi: “slackness of bandages,” Galen 18 2.806. (39), in reference to Thucydides, an Athenian General and disciple of Hippocrates who also defined apostasis as separation.  And “slackness of bandages” is the exact same phrase of one of the Greek definitions of “apostasis” (the early form of the noun “apostasia.)”   Proof: “ἡ, late form for ἀπόστασις,”ἀποστασία.  So, please tell me: how in the world do you get slackness of a bandage without it being physically and spatially moved?  The two words parallel and resonate with each other like two prongs off the same tuning fork.  It proves Luke’s incredible knowledge of medical terminology. 

So I tossed and turned through the night after I discovered Galen’s commentary on the Greek word Aphistemi in relation to his “slackness (looseness) of bandages” regarding Thucydides. I kept pondering this question I would ask my father who was a physician: “How tight or loose should a bandage be on a wound?”  I know exactly what he would say:

    “It depends on the patient, the kind of wound, and their stage in recovery.”  

Medical use of Loosing a Bandage

The meaning of aphistemi being looseness of the bandage has nothing to do with a moral question or falling away, physically or spiritually.  The tightness or looseness of a bandage is not necessarily good or bad.  And just like apostasis, it can be active or passive.  Usually tightening or loosing a bandage is done by the physician when he or she determines the appropriate amount and timing; it is passive from the patient’s perspective but active by the outsider, the doctor.  However, it too can often be done by the patient him or herself, and therefore, is not necessarily passive.  The literal meaning of aphistemi is to change the space or distance between the wound and bandage.  Tight could be good but too tight would be bad because it could cut off blood circulation or increase the pain. Loose could be good to relieve pain and pressure and increase necessary mobility.  So Luke as a physician had to know the medical meaning of the Koine Greek word aphistemi, even if and when he used the term figuratively, or outside of a medical context.  You want a tight bandage to stop the bleeding of an open wound from battle, like a tourniquet, or the patient will quickly bleed to death.  But a burn victim must have looser bandages because of pain and damage to the tissue.  Some patients need to have their wounds have access to air, so soft breathable gauze is used.  Pressure wounds need cushioning in the bandaging.  Some patients need the bandage looser because of mobility needed in work, battle, or sports.  As a wound heals, you would loosen the bandage.  Sometimes you don’t need pressure because you are just trying to protect the wound or absorb puss and drain the infection.  Pressure or tight bandages are often needed to contain swelling but then loosened over time as the swelling recedes.  The tightness and/or looseness of bandages is both a science and an art.  Both loose and slack can have a literal and figurative meaning, both positive and negative!  It is clear that aphistemi in Ancient Greek refers to a physical spatial change or distance, as would happen in how loose or slack a bandage is, which Luke clearly understood.

Here are the Medical Terms Luke penned in the Koine Greek Scriptures:

puretois kai dusenterio sunechomenon, “suffering from a fever and dysentery,”  Acts 28:89

therion  wild beasts Acts 10:12. Acts 11:6,  Acts 28:4-5

hudropikos,  dropsy, i.e., internal water  Luke 14:2

kathepsen    fastened on Acts 28:3

echidna  poisonous snake Luke 3:7 (figurative or spiritual), Acts 28:3

atopon   improper, wicked Luke 23:41; Acts 28:6 harmful

Pimprasthai,  to swell or become inflamed Acts 28:6

katapiptein  fallen down Acts 28:6

astheneias  want [lack] of strength, weakness, infirmity  Luke 13:11-13

apolelusai  fully free Luke 13:12

anorthothe  make erect Luke 13:13

sunechomene pureto megalo  Luke 4:38

megas as in high fevers and mikros as in slight fevers  Luke 4:38

este stanched, as in stanching the bleeding  Luke 8:43-44

Four Different Greek words for Falling Away

Now Luke and Paul could have used four different Greek words: Πεφτώ μακριά

(Peftó makriá) for “falling away,” or Αποσκιρτώ (Aposkirtó), καὶ παραπεσόντας” parapíptō for “fall away,” or ἐκπίπτω ekpiptō, if that is what they meant, whether physical or allegorical.  Both Luke and Paul, as well as Matthew, Mark, John, and Peter used the Greek word piptō “fell” (Strongs’ 4098) a total of 83 verses (234 verses in the combined Old and New Testaments).  It means to descend from a higher place to a lower place.  It could mean fell physically and/or spiritually in a negative sense (even death), but it was also used in a good sense when they fell down to worship the Lord.  If apostasia means departing, it could mean from a higher place to a lower place.  But if it is referring the Rapture, it would have to mean ascending from a lower place (the earth) to a higher place (Heaven), i.e., the Resurrection and Ascension of all Christian saints.   Peter and the book of Hebrews use the term “parapipto” which means to deviate from a from the straight path (not ascend or descend);

Here is the reference in First Peter:

”For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof  falleth away:”  1Peter 1:24

I highlighted in bold fall away and falleth away, which in Greek is: “καὶ παραπεσόντας” parapíptō which Strong’s Greek Concordance assigned the number 3895, to be distinguished from Strong’s G868 above.  The second use of fall away is the Greek word “ekpipto” (Strongs’ G1601) meaning falleth away in I Peter 1:24, and also in James 1:11.   Note that the petals falling from a flower, or the entire flower falling, is morally neutral and both Scriptures mean physical falling.  However, in Gal. 5:4 by Paul and Rev. 2:5 by John, they use the same Greek word “ekpipto” where it does mean a spiritual-moral falling.  And just like apostasis and aphistemi, falling can be active or passive.  I can fall by accident, or be pushed to fall, which is passive; but if I choose to fall away from the faith, that is active.  Now if “the falling away” from the faith is truly what Paul meant in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, he could have used any of the above Greek words for falling away (parapipto, ekpipto, pipto), instead of apostasia!  We must not forget that there is also a great revolt (the last one), rejection of the faith at the end of the Millennium too, so falling away can’t be unique to the beginning of The Tribulation if there is another one later.  In this regard, I invite you all to go to and type in individually each of these words in their search engine: fall, fallen, falling away, fell, and see the host of how many different kinds of fallings there are throughout Scripture.  If there were only one single “The Falling Away,” how is it then possible to have legions of falling aways?

Here is the reference in Hebrews:

“ If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”  Hebrews 6:6 

It is clear from the context in Hebrews 6:6 above, that the author is referring to a spiritual falling away.  The Greek words listed above can mean either physical or spiritual falling away, as Strong’s Concordance reveals.  And it is critical to further note that if Pre-wrath Rapture proponents mean “fall away” spiritually vs. physical departure, it must be THE falling away that must follow the appearance of the Antichrist.

To reiterate, the Greek word “ho” used for “the apostasy” in 2 Thess. 2:3, actually means “the,” but most translations use the word “a” instead.  So if it is translated “a” falling away, then the one in the Tribulation could simply be added to the legions of falling aways in the entire Church Age.  The Greek article “ho” is used when Jesus said I am “the Resurrection,” John 11:25, and “I am the way the truth and the life” John 14:5.  But imagine replacing “ho” (the) with a.  This would then render these passages as Jesus saying “I am a Resurrection,” and “I am a way, a truth, and a life.”  Or imagine rendering this Scripture: 

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;”  I Timothy 4:1,  

as “Now a Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from a faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils,” it would be absurd and the ultimate corruption of Scripture and the original Greek.  The Spirit is The only Holy Spirit, and The Faith is the only true Christianity. tampering with the true Greek meanings of these words in Scripture would then by logic, mistranslate Christ as simply “a” resurrection.  Privately interpreting 2 Thess 2:3 would then render this as simply another “a falling away!”  But if, in the case of Pre-wrath Rapture theology it means “the falling away spiritually,” it would then have to mean that there is no falling away that could precede the appearance of the Antichrist.  It can’t be both.  But in truth, falling away has collectively been going on for the entire Church Age.

To suggest and teach that aphistemi means falling away is a corruption of Greek and Scripture, false teaching, and patently absurd!  Plug the true meaning to aphistemi into every use of the word in Scripture and in every context, and the word makes perfect sense!

For a complete and comprehensive illumination of all of the Koine Greek definitions and applications that Luke uses in the Book of Luke and Book of Acts, please read: The Medical Language of St. Luke, by William Kirk Hobart, a Greek scholar:

Luke repeatedly replicated Hippocrates medical terms not just apostasis and Aphistemi in Koine Greek.

I also refer you to pages 9-11 in this document by Andy Woods which elaborates on this in greater detail:

Stephen Colvin, a reputed Ancient Greek language scholar in the UK which I cited earlier, said that the root word and original word was apostasis and was Classical Greek that preceded Koine Greek, though there was some overlap.  The New Testament was written in Koine Greek so they wouldn’t even have used the Classical Greek word apostasis but it still meant the same!   A perfect example of Classical Greek and Koine Greek using same word is “love” in English.  But there are four different words for love in Greek with completely different meanings.  The English word is not wrong; it just does not tell you what kind of love!  Today apostasy is generally understood by most Christians to mean falling away spiritually.  But we have to go by what the Bible meant at the time the term was used!  Pre-wrath Rapture proponents will try to use it to refute any Pre-tribulation Rapture defender, saying apostasis and apostasia don’t or can’t mean the same thing.  So here is more ancient Greek proof that they do mean the same thing:

Here is the free online Ancient Greek Lexilogos Dictionary:ἀπόστασις&dict=LSJ

(scroll down to see the Ancient Greek definitions below)

Here are the definitions of Apostasis, Apostasia, and Aphistemi, and Forsake in the Ancient Greek Lexilogos Dictionary from their website:

Also see:ἀπόστασις&mobileaction=toggle_view_desktop

LSJ 1940 Apostasis

ἀπόστασις εως, ἡ, (< ἀφίστημι) causing to revolt, συμμάχων Th. 1.122 ; Ἰώνων ἀπὸ τῆς Λακεδαιμονίων συμμαχίας Arist. Ath. 23.4. (< ἀφίσταμαι) emanation, εἰδώλων ἀποστάσεις Epicur. Fr. 320.
slackness, of bandages, Gal. 18(2).806.
defection, revolt, ἀπό τινος Hdt. 3.128 ; τὴν Κυπρίων ἀ. πρῆξαι Id. 5.113 ; τὴν Αἰγύπτου ἀ. παρασκευάζεσθαι Id. 7.4 ; ἀ. ἐκ τῆς ξυμμαχίας Th. 5.81 ; ἀ. πρός τινα Id. 1.75 ; διπλῆν ἀ. ἀποστήσεσθαι Id. 3.13 ; ἀ. τῶν Ἀθηναίων, for ἀπὸ τ. Ἀ., Id. 8.5 ; but τὰς Μεσσηνίων ἀ. Pl. Lg. 777c.
departure from, βίου E. Hipp. 277 ; separation of effect from cause, Procl. Inst. 35 ; giving up, cession, ἀ. τῶν κτημάτων D. 19.146 ; desisting from, disuse of, φάσεως S.E. P. 1.192 ; τῶν ἀπροαιρέτων Arr. Epict. 4.44.39.
distance, ἁ ἀφ’ ἡμῶν ἀ. Archyt. 1 ; ἀφεστάναι τῇ αὐτῇ ἀ. ᾗπερ… Pl. Phd. 111b ; ἀπόστασιν ὅσην ἀφεστηκὼς γίγνεται Id. R. 587d, cf. 546b ; ἐκ μικρᾶς ἀ. Arist. Aud. 800b7 ; τῇ ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς ἀ. Id. HA 503a21 ; ἐκ τῶν ἀ. according to their distances, Id. Cael. 290b22 ; of time, κατὰ τὴν πρὸς τὸ νῦν ἀ. Id. Ph. 223a5 ; ἐξ ἀποστάσεως at a certain distancePlb. 3.114.3 ; ἐν ἀποστάσει Id. 3.113.4, Phld. Herc. 19.25 ; κατ’ ἀποστάσεις Hanno Peripl. 13. Rhet., employment of detached phrasesHermog. Id. 1.10, Aristid. Rh. 1 p. 462S.Philostr. VS 1.9.1 (pl.), Ep. 73.
lapse, declensionPlot. 1.8.7, 5.1.1.
place where something is put away, repository, storehouseStr. 17.1.9, Philippid. 14, Heraclid. Pol. 72.
 Medic., suppurative inflammation, throwing off the peccant humours left by fever, etc., Hp. Epid. 3.4 (pl.), Aret. SD 1.9, Aristid. Or. 47 (23).68.
of diseases, transition from one to anotherHp. Epid. 1.6 ; στραγγουριώδης ἀ. ib. 3.1αʹ.
lesion of continuity, Gal. 18(2).820.
degree of heat, cold, etc., Id. 11.561, al. 


LSJ 1940 Apostasia

ἀποστασία ἡ, late form for ἀπόστασις, defection, revolt, v.l. in DH. 7.1, J. Vit. 10, Plu. Galb. 1 ; esp. in religious sense, rebellion against God, apostasyLXX Jo. 22.22, 2 Ep. Th. 2.3.
departure, disappearanceOlymp. in Mete. 320.2.
distinguishing, c. gen., Elias in Cat. 119.7.
distanceArchim. Aren. 1.5. 

LSJ 1940 Aphistemi

ἀφίστημι A. causal in pres. and impf., in fut. ἀποστήσω, and aor.1 ἀπέστησα, as also in aor.1 Med. (v. infr.) : — put away, remove, keep out of the way, τὸ ἀσθενέστατον τοῦ στρατεύματος X. HG 7.5.23 ; ἄχος A. Ch. 416 (lyr.) ; of diseases, Dsc. 2.96, Gal. 13.846 ; τὰ συγκείμενα ἀ. ἀπ’ ἀλλήλων Pl. Plt. 282b ; ἀ. τῆς ἐλάας τὸν φλοιόν Thphr. CP 3.3.2 ; ἀ. τινὰ λόγου hinder from…E. IT 912 ; ἀ. τὰς τῶν πολεμίων ἐπιβουλάς frustrate them, Th. 1.93 ; ἀ. τὸν ἄρχοντα depose him, X. HG 7.1.45 ; — aor. Med., Ἀργείων δόρυ πυλῶν ἀπεστήσασθε removed it from your own gates, E. Ph. 1087 ; — in Hdt. 9.23 ἀποστήσαντες, = ἀποστάντες, having retired. cause to revolt, of allies, Id. 8.19, Ar. Eq. 238, Th. 1.81 ; τινὰ ἀπό τινος Hdt. 1.76, 154, etc. ; τινά τινος And. 3.22. in geom. constructions, cut offProcl. Hyp. 6.7.
weigh outX. Smp. 2.20 ; ἀποστησάτωσαν τὰ χρυσία IG 7.303.19 (Oropus) ; pay, δραχμὰς ηʹ ἀργυρίου UPZ 93.2 (ii BC) ; also in aor.1 Med., μὴ… ἀποστήσωνται Ἀχαιοὶ χρεῖος lest they weigh out (i.e. pay in full) the debt, Il. 13.745, cf. IG1². 91.20, al. ; — in strict sense of Med., ἀποστήσασθαι τὸν χαλκόν to have the brass weighed out to oneD. 49.52. — Hom. has it trans. only in l.c. Med.give a final decision (or break up, dismiss the assembly), ῥήτρα ap. Plu. Lyc. 6.
intr., in Pass., as also in aor.2 ἀπέστην, imper. ἀπόστηθι Ar. Th. 627, ἀπόστα Men. 375 ; pf. ἀφέστηκα in pres. sense, sync. in pl. ἀφέσταμεν, στατε, -στᾶσι, as in inf. ἀφεστάναι, part. ἀφεστώς, ῶσα, -ός or -ώς ; plpf. ἀφεστήκειν, Att. -κη Pl. Tht. 208e ; fut. Med. ἀποστήσομαι E. Hec. 1054, Th. 5.64, etc. (while aor.1 Med. is causal (v. supr.)) ; for fut. ἀφεστήξω v.h.v. : — stand away or aloof from, keep far from, ὅσσον δὲ τροχοῦ ἵππος ἀφίσταται Il. 23.517 ; οὐ μέν κ’ ἄλλη γ’ ὧδε γυνὴ… ἀνδρὸς ἀφεσταίη Od. 23.101 ; ἀποστᾶσ’ ἐκποδών E. Hel. 1023 ; ἐς ἄλλο σχῆμ’ ἀ. βίου Id. Med. 1039 ; ἀποσταθῶμεν πράγματος τελουμένου A. Ch. 872 ; ὡς γραφεὺς (or βραβεὺς) ἀποσταθείς E. Hec. 807 ; μακρὰν τόποις καὶ χρόνοις ἀ. DS. 13.22 ; hence in various relations, ἀφεστάναι φρενῶν lose one΄s wits, S. Ph. 865 ; φύσεος Ar. V. 1457 (lyr.) ; οὐδενὸς ἀποστήσονται ὅσα ἂν δίκαια λέγητε depart from, object to right proposals, Th. 4.118 ; ἀ. φόνου E. Or. 1544 ; ἀ. ἀρχῆς to be deposed from office, Pl. Lg. 928d ; simply, resign, SIG 527.105 (Crete, iii BC) ; ἀ. τῶν πραγμάτων, τῆς πολιτείας, etc., withdraw from business, politics, have done with it, D. 10.1, 18.308, etc. ; ἔργων ἢ πόνων ἢ κινδύνων shun them, Isoc. 4.83, cf. X. HG 7.5.19, etc. ; ὧν εἷλεν ἀποστάς giving up all claim to what he had won (at law), D. 21.181 ; τῶν αὑτῆς Id. 19.147, cf. 35.4 ; ἀφίστασθαι τῶν τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ ib. 44 ; οὐδενὸς τῶν ἀνηκόντων τῇ πόλει Inscr.Magn.53.65 ; τὴν πολιτείαν… τὴν ἀφεστηκυῖαν τοῦ μέσου πλεῖον further removed from…Arist. Pol. 1296b8 ; ἀποστὰς τῶν πατρῴων Luc. DMort. 12.3 ; ἀ. ἐκ Σικελίας withdraw from the island, give up the expedition, Th. 7.28 ; retire, ἐς Ἰθώμην Id. 1.101 ; rarely c. acc., avoid, shrink from, τὸν ἥλιον X. Cyn. 3.3 ; τὸν πόλεμον Id. An. 2.5.7 ; τινάς E. Fr. 1006 ; πυγμήν Philostr. Gym. 20 (prob. cj.). in Prose, ἀ. ἀπό τινος revolt from…, Hdt. 1.95, 130, etc. ; τινός Id. 2.113 ; οὐκ ἀποστήσομαι ἀπὸ τοῦ δήμου Ἀθηναίων IG1². 39.21 ; but Ἀθηναίων τοῦ πλήθους ib. 10.22 ; also ἀ. εἴς or πρός τινας, Hdt. 2.30, 162, cf. X. An. 1.6.7 ; ἐς δημοκρατίαν ἀ. Th. 8.90 ; abs., revoltHdt. 1.102, etc. ; ὑπό τινος at his instigation, Th. 8.35 (ἀπό codd.). ἀ. τινί make way for another, give way to him, E. Hec.1054, D. 8.37. c. gen., shrink from, τῶν κινδύνων Isoc. 9.29 ; also c. inf., shrink from doing, ἀπέστην τοῦτ’ ἐρωτῆσαι σαφῶς E. Hel. 536. abs., stand aloof, recoil from fear, horror, etc., τίπτε καταπτώσσοντες ἀφέστατε; Il. 4.340 ; πολλὸν ἀφεσταότες 17.375 ; παλίνορσος ἀπέστη 3.33, Pi. O. 1.52, P. 4.145 ; ἐγὼ οὐδέν τι μᾶλλον ἀ. Pl. Tht. 169b, cf. D. 19.45, etc. ; desist, μὴ νῦν ώμεθα Pl. Lg. 960e ; δοῦλος ἀφεστώς a runawayLys. 23.7. Medic., ἀφίσταται, = ἀπόστασις γίγνεται, εἰς ἄρθρα Hp. Aph. 4.74 ; ἀ. ὀστέον exfoliatesib. 6.45 ; also ἀ. ἀπὸ τῶν ὀστῶν Pl. Ti. 84a ; τὸ δέρμα ἀ. X. Eq. 1.5 ; also, project, stand out, ὦτα ἀφεστηκότα PLond. 3.1209.12 (i BC).
to be separated by the formation of an abscess, Gal. 11.116, al. (also in Act., τὸ πύον ἀφίστησι 7.715). 

LSJ 1940 Forsake 

ἐγκαταλείπω leave behind, παῖδα Hes. Op. 378 ; ἐ. φρουρὰν ἐν τῇ νήσῳ Th. 3.51 ; πλεῖον ἐ. ἐξιόντες ἐκ τῆς ὠνῆς PRev. Laws 53.12 ; ἐ. τὸ κέντρον, of a bee, Pl. Phd. 91c ; hence of Pericles, τὸ κέντρον ἐγκατέλιπε τοῖς ἀκροωμένοις Eup. 94.7 ; ἐ. τὴν μάχαιραν ἐν τῇ σφαγῇ Antipho 5.69.
leave in the lurchPl. Smp. 179a, Lycurg. 2, D. 57.58, Ev. Matt. 27.46, Lyr.Alex.Adesp. 4.22, etc. ; abandon, νεκροὺς Th. 4.44 ; ἀκρόπολιν X. HG 5.44.13.
leave out, omitHdt. 3.119.
leave traces behindEpicur. Nat. Herc. 1420. Pass., to be left behind in a race, Hdt. 8.59.
leave residual symptoms or sequelaeHp. Epid. 6.2.6, 6.7.7. 


Pre-tribulation Rapture opponents, have approached me and rightfully brought up the Scripture about binding the strong man.  Robert Thomas (already promoted to Glory) addressed this very concern and relevance:

“If the falling leaves are signs within the fall season, they are not signs that precede the fall season.

Another construction that has the same grammatical pattern is Mark 3:27. “No one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first [Gr. prōton] binds the strong man and then [Gr. tote] he will plunder his house.” The word “first” in this sentence does not refer to what precedes the “unless” clause, as if it meant that one must first bind a strong man before he can enter his house. Instead, the word “first” shows the priority of what follows: 1) a person enters the strong man’s house; 2) he must first bind the strong man; 3) and then the strong man’s house is plundered.38 The word “first” applies to what follows, as is evident in the word “then” (tote) in the final clause of the verse.

Application of these grammatical parallels to 2 Thessalonians 2:3 results in the following: “The day of the Lord is not present unless first in sequence within that day the apostasy comes, and following the apostasy’s beginning, the revealing of the man of lawlessness occurs.” Rather than the two events preceding the day of the Lord as has often been suggested, these are happenings that comprise conspicuous stages of that day after it has begun. By observing the nonoccurrence of these, the Thessalonian readers could rest assured that the day whose leading events will be so characterized was not yet present.39 “



Summary of things that struck me:

*Apostasis and apostasia can be virtually identical in meaning.  If apostasis or apostasia means departure, it likewise can be evil or righteous, or simply neutral (like departing from a city). Righteous if departing from evil, and evil if departing from the faith.

*Aphistemi and apostasis can be virtual synonyms.  The Greek definition of aphistemi does not even ONCE contain the word fall or falling away or fallen!

*Neither term apostasis or apostasia means FALLING AWAY!

*Both apostasia and aphistemi have been used to mean revolt, but revolt is not always evil.  Here are some stratospheric righteous examples:  Jesus Christ and the Apostles’ greatest revolution in history against the Pharisees and Sadducees (religion of works vs. grace); the Reformers’ revolt against Roman Catholicism; the Anabaptists’ revolt against Calvinism and Infant Baptism; the colonists’ revolt against the British; and those resisters who fought against Apartheid.  They were all revolts and rebellions against evil.

The bottom line is that both apostasia and aphistemi can mean physical distance.  Both can mean departure.  Both can mean revolt, meaning both can be synonyms.  Departures from the faith are like bricks in a chimney.  And there will be a final last brick on the top to complete the last person and enemy of Christ!   Falling away from the faith is the whole chimney and covers the entire Church Age and entire Tribulation as well as those who rebel during the Millennium.   “Falling away” is not a single last brick that has to be in place before which the Antichrist appears!  QED, or as Scripture records about Stephen when he was being stoned, nothing he said could be refuted!



In the 1980s, I once worked in the marketing department for a well-known security company in the South Tower of the World Trade Center, on the 90th Floor as I recall.  I vividly remember the long escalators, the elevators, and being underneath the building when I arrived on the subway; as well as the incredible view of New York City, New Jersey, and the New York Harbor.  I secured the job through a Christian employment agency in Wall Street and enjoyed many friends there.  My boss was a Christian lady and a great boss.  But had I been working there on 9/11, I probably wouldn’t have made it out as the plane struck between the 77th and 85th floors at 540 miles per hour (870 km/h) which reached 2500 degrees Fahrenheit.  So ever since then and on the day of 20th Anniversary Memorial of 9/11, I can’t help but think about that attack and ponder to this day, and will never forget, the rest of my life these Scriptures:

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”  Proverbs 27:1

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”  Apostle James 4:13-14

“In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”  The Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 6:2

But why not get saved tomorrow or next year?  No hurry!  After all, can’t we all wait until the Tribulation and get saved then because the Rapture can’t happen until Mid, Pre-wrath, or Post-tribulation…so no need to be watchful.   And though we don’t know everything that might happen tomorrow, we do know with certainty the Rapture can’t happen tomorrow! Right?  No!  Wrong.  Non-Imminent Return of Christ gives a false impression and signal to all of the lost in the world and this present darkness!  It is the ultimate deception to them because it teaches them that today doesn’t have to be their day of salvation but mañana (we can wait ’til tomorrow)!  God’s current wrath is actually also the Grace of God because if you repent, it is reversible.  So we do not want the unsaved to think that they can “eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die,” or if we we live we can just wait until the Antichrist comes and then make a decision to repent, i.e., sin all the more because God’s grace abounds all the more, to which the Apostle Paul said: “God forbid!”   Plus they also risk becoming part of the strong delusion God will send upon the earth during the Tribulation, when God’s wrath is irreversible and it will be too late for them to be saved!

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