“That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter from us, as that the day of the Lord is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come the falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” (2 Thessalonians 2:2-3)
From The Christian Church in the Last Days
The “falling away” (the Greek word apostasia, meaning the rebellion or the departure) presupposes that there will be a large enough group of people involved in this distinctive end-times event to be worth mentioning in Holy Scripture. If the Christian church were to be raptured pretribulation into heaven before this falling away, so many hundreds of millions of Christians would be absent off the earth through an unexpected early rapture there would not be a large enough number of people physically present in orthodox Christian churches to have a rebellion, a departure, or a falling away from.
Certainly large numbers of unsaved people in modern-day, liberal, apostate churches would be left behind in a pretribulation rapture scenario, and some people in orthodox Christian churches, who were unsaved would be left behind. But being “left behind” in a pretribulation rapture context would not be a rebellion, a departure, or a falling away. It would more accurately be called an exposure. It would be a decisively clear and public revelation of a nominal, unregenerate, hypocritical spiritual condition that before the rapture would not be openly apparent.
To accurately be called a falling away in this end-times prophetic context, we have to have something numerically substantial enough in place to fall away from. Things that fall away from nothing do not fall away, they independently dissipate, dissolve, or collapse. If a pretribulation rapture triggers a subsequent great falling away, as some people believe, how then does a person rebel, depart, or fall away from a church that essentially no longer exists? How does a person fall away from a church that has ninety-five percent or more of its members disappearing instantly through the rapture? In this case the raptured church lifted off the earth has done the “falling away”…the active movement…not the left behind person standing alone in an empty church that no longer has a congregation. And why would a person rebel, depart, or fall away from an apostate church that has only five percent or less of its members disappear instantly through the rapture, with ninety-five percent or more left behind?
Paul is clearly differentiating the falling away from the rapture, because He says that one cannot happen before the occurrence of the other. The point I am making here is that not only are the falling away and the rapture two different events, but also that the falling away is not plausibly a result or a by-product of a pretribulation rapture. If this reasoning is correct, this has huge implications towards a better understanding of the dynamics of the upcoming tribulation for the Christian church.