Is the Apostasia a Spiritual or a Spatial Departure? :: By Jeff Van Hatten

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 – “But in connection with the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah and our gathering together to meet him, we ask you, brothers, not to be easily shaken in your thinking or anxious because of a spirit or a spoken message or a letter supposedly from us claiming that the Day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. For the Day will not come until after the departure has come and the man who separates himself from Torah has been revealed, the one destined for doom.”

Prophecies often have dual fulfillment, so today, we will look at another topic linked to the pre-tribulation Rapture of the Bride of Yeshua – that of the apostasia to see if this word has been correctly translated or if it has been irresponsibly mistranslated. Does Paul’s use of the word apostasia indicate a spiritual departure, or a spatial departure, or both – let’s take a closer look:

Historical Translations

Several translations of the Greek New Covenant apostasia into English prior to the King James Authorized version of 1611 translate apostasia as either the departure or the departing. Those translations are:

  • The Tyndale Bible (1526 / 1534) a departynge fyrst
  • The Coverdale Bible (1539) a departynge come firft
  • The Cranmer Bible (1539) a departynge fyrst
  • and The Geneva Bible (1557) a departing first

One newer translation that also translates apostasia as departure is the Hebrew Names Version (1997).

Modern Translations

Modern translations of the Greek New Covenant apostasia into English use various words. For example:

  • The Complete Jewish Bible – apostasy
  • The New American Standard Bible – apostasy
  • The New English Translation – rebellion
  • The New Revised Standard Version – rebellion
  • The English Standard Version – rebellion
  • The King James Version – a falling away

The Word Apostasia

2 Thessalonians 2:3 – “The tribulation will not come until The Departure comes first…”

The words translated “the departure” are the Greek words he [G3588] apostasia [G646], meaning hé departure. The word hé simply means “the.” The Latin Vulgate (“ne quis vos seducat ullo modo quoniam nisi venerit discessio“) uses the word “discessio,” which also translates as: a withdrawal, a dispersal, a separation, or a departure. A literal English translation, therefore, correctly reads “the departure comes first.

A Spiritual Departure

2 Thessalonians 2:3 – “For the Day will not come until after the Apostasy has come…”

Apostasia [G646], formed from the conjunction of apo and stasia is defined literally as “a leaving, from a previous standing.” Today it has come to mean a defection from truth or rejection of truth; in other words, an apostasy.

Below are a couple of examples:

Genesis 6:5 – “Yahweh saw that the people on earth were very wicked, that all the imaginings of their hearts were always of evil only.” In the days of Noah, the people of the earth had departed from righteous living, which resulted in the earth being flooded and destroyed (Genesis 6:17; 9:11).

2 Chronicles 36:21 – “The land experienced its sabbatical years; it remained desolate for seventy years, as prophesied.” In the days when Nebuchadnezzar ruled Babylon, judgment against Israel was rendered for Israel’s departure from honoring the Sabbaths. The Temple was destroyed, and the people were exiled to Babylon.

John 11:48 – “The Romans will come and destroy both the Temple and the nation.” By the time of Yeshua, the Pharisees and Sadducees had departed from the written Torah and were teaching primarily from the Oral Traditions of the rabbis. The Temple was destroyed again, and the people were exiled to all the nations of the world.

The First Spiritual Sequence:

First – Departure from righteous living as commanded by The Torah, Second – Destruction.

The historical patterns show a departure from scriptural or doctrinal principles prior to judgment leading to some form of destruction.

The Second Spiritual Sequence:

First – Departure, Second – Revealing.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 – “When our Lord Yeshua returns, we will be gathered up to meet him. So do not be easily upset or disturbed by people who claim that he has already come or that the Day of The Lord has begun… and do not let anyone in any way deceive you, for the tribulation will not come until The Departure comes first, and then the revealing of the Man of Lawlessness, the Son of Perdition, comes second.”

2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 – “He who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed.”

Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians describes the sequence of events regarding the gathering together of those in Mashiach (Christ) and confirms that that time had not yet happened – the Day of the Lord or tribulation period was still in the future. Paul admonishes the Thessalonians not to be deceived and then goes on to describe the future sequence of events. Note the parallel sequences in both verse three and then verses seven and eight of Second Thessalonians! First, the departure. Then, the Man of Lawlessness, the Son of Perdition, or as he is commonly known, the antichrist, is revealed.

A Spatial Departure

Apostasia is made up of two words, apo and stasia.

  • Apo [G575] means: a motion away from a place or person, the separation of apart from the whole. It is a state of separation, that is of distance – either physical: of distance of place, or temporal: of distance of time. It is graphically represented by a straight line going away from the circumference of a circle: o̸
  • Stasia means: a standing, to stand, exist, have stability. It comes from the root word: Stasis [G4714].

Together they mean a standing away from, a drawing out from, a separation away from, or a going out from among. This fits exactly with the images of the “great escape” and the “gathering together” of scripture.

Apostasia [G646] is the feminine form of apostasion [G647], which is a derivative form of aphistēmi [G868], all of which refer to a departure from someone or something. In other words, a separation of distance, either physical or temporal. Aphistēmi [G868] is translated “depart” 13 out of 16 times in the Newer Covenant scriptures, and as withdraw, drew away, or refrain from, in the other scriptures.

Below are a couple of examples:

Luke 2:37 – “Anna never departed the temple, serving night and day with fasting and prayer.”

Luke 13:27 – “And Yeshua will say, ‘Depart from me, all you evildoers.'”

Acts 12:10 – After the angel had released Peter from the prison, “immediately the angel departed from him.”

2 Corinthians 12:8 – “I implored Yeshua three times that the messenger of Satan might depart from me.”

The Spatial Sequence:

First – Departure as in the rapture, second – Destruction.

This historical pattern of rapture, or departure, before destruction can be seen in the raptures of Enoch, Elijah, and Yeshua. The Bride of Yeshua will also be raptured before the Day of the Lord, or Tribulation Period commences.

Another Apostasy (Speaking in English)

Acts 21:21 – “They have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses…”

The word apostasia (forsake) in this scripture may indeed indicate an apostasy, leaving, or rebellion of faith – a falling away from pure exposition of scriptural or doctrinal principles, or to a falling away from the Torah – a falling away from the teachings of Moses. However, it could also literally be translated to mean: “Just turn your back on Moses himself, and walk away from him.” Today we are seeing just such an abandonment or forsaking of scripture and sound doctrine, as well as a falling away from (or turning of the back on) the church and the church’s teachings as the time of Yeshua’s return draws near – in other words: a dual fulfillment.


Understanding the precise context of the scriptures in which the word apostasia is used clearly determines which meaning is being expressed. Paul’s Second Thessalonians letter may only be addressing the topic of a departure away from scriptural or doctrinal principles prior to the revealing of the antichrist, as in Acts 21:21.

However, If the word apostasia in Second Thessalonians is referring to the harpazō or departure of the Bride of Yeshua, this may be an additional meaning of the topic, and the Bride will also depart from earth prior to the commencement of the Tribulation Period.

In context of the harpazō (the gathering together, rapture, or departure) of the Bride of Yeshua, the Bride is gathered first, then secondly the antichrist is revealed. This agrees fully with Matthew 16:18, which states that the Church cannot be overcome by Satan or all the powers of Hell. That the apostasia is the harpazō also agrees with First Thessalonians in which Paul states that the Bride of Yeshua is to wait for Yeshua who “who rescues us from the coming wrath” (1 Thessalonians 1:10) and also with Paul’s statement that “Yahweh did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Yeshua Ha’Mashiach” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).