What is the “falling away” in II Thess 2:3
Though the two lines of thought you mention are the most common thoughts regarding the “falling away first,” I am persuaded that neither of them is correct. Briefly put my understanding is that the “falling away” refers to the particular political falling away (and its resulting turmoil and tension among the nations around Israel) that is prophesied to take place, and that needs to take place, at the beginning of the final installment in God’s program with Israel. It is this prophesied political “falling away” that creates the special political and international environment in those nations, (including Israel), which provides the means for the revelation of “the man of sin.” This special political “falling away” occurs during the onset of the final installment in Israel’s program, and the issues pertaining to its unique nature and what it provides for are set forth for example in Daniel 11. The information about it is a major part of the final revelation given to Daniel, which final revelation outlines the major events and describes the general outworking of the final installment in God’s program with Israel.
The expression “falling away” is just as commonly used to denote a political departure or apostasy, as it is to denote a religious or doctrinal one. The context in which the expression is used is always the determining factor. And since the context of II Thessalonians 2:3 is dealing with the events that need to take place in God’s program with Israel that will result in Him responding to those events with “the day of Christ”; and since Israel’s prophets set forth that those needed events especially concern the activities of the nations around Israel, and are political and international in nature; and since Daniel 11 in particular describes a special political falling away that provides not only for the revelation of the man of sin, but also for the actions of both he and Israel that will cause God to respond with Christ’s day; my understanding therefore is that it is this particular political “falling away” that Paul is talking about in II Thessalonians 2:3.
This is the gist of my understanding. I hope it is of some help.
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