Related: Last Days
The Apostasy of the Christian Profession. The New Testament foretells the sad breakdown and apostasy, or "falling away" of the Christian profession. In fact, all the New Testament writers universally agree in their prediction of this sad situation.1 It may be helpful to see that this apostasy occurs in phases, whereby the "seeds" of the final apostasy were sown all the way back in the days of the apostles!23
- The Latter Times: individuals fall away ("antichrists"), teaching lies (1 Tim. 4:1-3; 1 John 2:18; 4:3; Jude 18). This began in the latter days of the apostle Paul (Acts 20:29-30), who could say "the mystery of iniquity doth already work" (2 Thess. 2:7). This developed into Gnosticism, then other heresies. This is called the "latter times", the "last time", or "the last hour".
- The Last Days: widespread false profession, blatant denial of the Lordship of Christ (2 Tim. 3:1-9; 4:3; 2 Pet. 3:3). Most likely this state of things came to be in the era of Constantine. It developed into the Roman system, and then into dead Protestantism. This is called the "last days". This is different from the "last days" of Israel. Read more...
- The Apostasy: full apostasy under the man of sin, the "Antichrist" (2 Thess. 2:3-12). This will take place after the rapture, and it will culminate in the middle of Daniel's seventieth week. This is called "that day" or "the apostasy".
It may at first seem strange that when John wrote, only a few decades into the Church period, it was already "the last hour". God has seen fit to extend the period of grace for hundreds of years. But that doesn't change the fact that we are still in "the last hour", still in "the last days", and the Christian profession is heading toward the great apostasy of Antichrist! Read more...
- In the gospels (Matt. 13:24-30; 36-43), in the Acts (Acts 20:29-30), in Paul's epistles (1 Tim. 4; 2 Tim. 3), in Peter's epistles (2 Pet. 2; 3:3-4), in the epistle of James (James 5:7, 9), in the epistle of Jude (Jude 1:4), and in the epistles of John (1 John 2:18), the ruin of the Christian profession is duly attested.
- The mischief here set out is not the wider and later evil of 2 Tim. 3:1-9, when Christendom would be but men professing the Lord's name, a form of piety with the denial of its power, no better than heathen in reality (cp. Rom. 1:28-32), though with the semblance and the responsibility of God's final revelation of grace and truth in Christ. Still less is it the frightful apostacy of 2 Thess. 2:3-12, which is to close the age before the Lord Jesus be revealed in judgment from heaven to introduce the new age and the kingdom of God to be manifested in power and blessing universally over the earth. - Kelly, W. The First Epistle to Timothy.
- In the preceding Epistle (1 Tim. 4:1-3) a prophetic warning had been given, but of evil quite distinct in time, character, and extent, from what we have here. Instead of "last days", the Spirit spoke expressly of later, or after, times, i.e., times subsequent to the apostle's writing. Instead of a widespread condition of "men" in Christendom, he there spoke of "some" only. The language suits and supposes but few comparatively; which only controversial zeal could have overlooked or converted into a prediction of the vast if not worse inroad of Romanism. It is a description of certain ones to depart from the faith into fleshly asceticism, paying heed to seducing spirits, etc... But in 2 Tim. 3:1 the view is a larger field... It is the counterpart of the great house in 2 Tim. 2:20, wherein are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also wooden and earthenware, and some to honour, and some to dishonour. Here, however, we have, not a symbolic figure, but a plain matter-of-fact account of a return to heathenism practically. Yet 2 Thess. 2 gives us to descry very far worse at hand. We ought not to be deceived in any manner, whatever the success of false teachers with some of the Thessalonian saints so young in the faith as they were. We know that the Lord is coming Who will gather us together, sleeping or alive, unto Himself, and therefore we need not be quickly shaken in mind, nor yet troubled by any power or means, to the effect that the day of the Lord is present. We know that it cannot be unless first there have come "the apostasy" — not a falling away, as substantially in all the well-known English Versions as well as the Authorized. It is not "discencioun" (Wiclif), nor "a departynge" (Tyndale), as Cranmer's Bible repeats in 1539, and the Geneva in 1557, nor "a revolt", as in the Rhemish of 1582. It is "the apostasy", and nothing else: worse there cannot be, unless it be the person who is its final head in direct antagonism to God and His anointed, the man of sin, the son of perdition, whom the Lord Jesus will consume with the Spirit of His mouth and destroy with the manifestation of His presence. - Kelly, W. The Second Epistle to Timothy.