Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Falling Away vs Departure

The King James Bible uses the term “falling away” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, but I was taught that it should say “departure.”  Can you explain why it makes a difference?

2 Thessalonians 2:3
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;

It makes a difference because “falling away” and “departure” don’t mean exactly the same thing.   A study of the scriptures can help you find the meaning of the more descriptive phrase “falling away.”

In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Paul is speaking about the time of “Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), the time in the future when Israel (not the body of Christ) goes through the tribulation period.

1 Thessalonians 5:9
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

Study God’s word to discover why he chose not to say “departure” rather than “falling away.”  Let’s look at Jeremiah 37 for an example.  This is a time in Jeremiah’s life when the people of Israel thought that he had betrayed the nation by being complicit with the Chaldeans/Babylonians who were coming to take over the nation of Israel.

Jeremiah 37:13-14
And when he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain of the ward was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans.  Then said Jeremiah, It is false; I fall not away to the Chaldeans. But he hearkened not to him: so Irijah took Jeremiah, and brought him to the princes.

They believed that Jeremiah left their nation and his allegiance to his own people and became aligned with the enemy.  That falling away had to do with Jeremiah supposedly leaving Israel to align himself with the Chaldeans.  They suspected him of committing treason, but he denies it.

Let’s look at a couple of other passages from prophecy.

Luke 8:11-13
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.  Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.  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.

The Lord says that there is a time of temptation and they fall away (go back, leave, or you could say “depart”).  But the Greek word means more than just to depart.  It was a departure in the sense of treason like Jeremiah was accused of.  It is a ‘departure’ with dire consequences.  It is more than just a general leaving.

What happened to Jeremiah?  He was put in prison and they sought to put him to death.  The falling away in the parable in Luke 8 was a bad departure that affected their eternity.

Hebrews 6:4-6
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 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.

They didn’t just depart, they fell away.  They experienced a taste of the kingdom blessings to come, like in early Acts, and then they fell away.  It was not just a departure; it is a ‘falling away’ with dire consequences.  They fell!  They’re done!  They’re gone!  Hebrews will be done if they ‘fall away’ from Jesus Christ to follow the anti-Christ.

Look what Paul says about Israel:

Romans 11:11
I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

Falling means that they had a high status but fell from it – like falling off a cliff.

2 Peter 3:17
Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

They are holding on to the truth and they should be wary of falling from it.  So you can see that falling away is a departing, but with grave or eternal consequences.  There is a departure that is good and that is the word God uses to describe it.

2 Timothy 4:6
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

Philippians 1:23
For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

To depart this world to be with the Lord is a good thing.  But each time ‘falling away’ is used, it carries with it grave consequences, which is why the KJB used that term.  How does one learn that?  Just like I did – by studying out the verses. 

2 Timothy 2:15
 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Hopefully this helps...Maranatha!

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