What Did the Apostle Paul Mean by a "Falling Away" in the End Times?

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What Did the Apostle Paul Mean by a "Falling Away" in the End Times?

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Those interested in the signs of the end times often take note of a warning given by Paul to the Thessalonians, speaking about the return of Jesus Christ to earth. He writes, "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first" (2 Thessalonians 2:3). He then proceeds to explain this "falling away" in greater detail.

Paul writes that it will involve the revealing of "the man of sin...the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). Some man is going to style himself as greater than God, pretending to be God—and people will believe him. Why? Because:

"The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie" (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11).

The "man of sin" posing as God will be performing supernatural acts with the help of the devil, deceiving all those who have rejected God and putting himself in a position to be worshipped by the world.

Revelation 19:20 describes this powerful religious leader as "the false prophet who worked signs" in connection with the political leader called the "beast." The False Prophet is the same as the one called "another beast" in Revelation 13:11, who performs miraculous "signs" (Revelation 13:14-15). He is also the leader of the false church ("the harlot") in Revelation 17:1-5. He is also referred to as "another horn" who will "persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law" in Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:20-22; Daniel 7:24-25.

There is much more to this subject of end-time prophecies. Learn more in the related resources below.

You Can Understand Bible Prophecy

The Book of Revelation Unveiled

Are We Living in the Time of the End?

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  • ProFetus

    With all that's going on, I thought this might be a good time to resurrect this conversation. In my view, this can only apply to the so called christian population. I word it this way because in my opinion you can't fall away from something unless you are connected to it in some way. I think this will apply to people of many faiths that have believe in Jehovah / Jesus but have a weak faith in him and/or don't understand the steps that need to be taken for Salvation, or are new in the faith.
    I don't see anyway to avoid the case for a Post Rapture.

    God will send a strong delusion to weed out those that aren't true believers or those who demonstrate the lack of faith in their daily lives. We must ask ourselves are we doing everything we can to live up to the standards set by Jehovah / Jesus.

  • Reverend Jim

    U said, "Some man is going to style himself as greater than God, pretending to be God—and people will believe him. Why?"
    That man is the Mahdi or the dajjal who won't rule over the entire planet. Only Muslim's will accept him WITHIN an Islamic Caliphate, a 10/7 alliance of nations and kings situated in East Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock or Al'aqsa mosque. 2 Thess. 2:9-11 is about Muslim's, NOT Christians.
    You also said,
    "He is also the leader of the false church (“the harlot”) in Revelation 17:1-5."
    The harlot is not a false church. She represents a false religion. NOTICE,
    V. 12-13 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. BUT WE are bound to give thanks alway to God for you
    BUT is a conjunction that show opposition and distinction; It's added to satements opposed to a preceding statement. That means that between verses 3B to V. 12 Christians OR THE CHURCH ARE NOT IMPLIED. Apostasy isn't heresy or a lack of devotion. IT'S A REBELLION AND AN ABANDONMENT, And has absolutely nothing to do with the church.

  • Pscottparker

    You could be right, Jim. They are certainly, IMO, a false religion, because their Quran claims that Jesus was never crucified but rather only His image. Bunch of whooey. There is AMPLE historical evidence and, indeed, one recently published study that confirms Jesus Christ lived and was crucified. More than 500 people, including each of his (then) apostles, saw the risen Christ. But that is not what Muslims believe. I occasionally wonder what they will think, feel when they see Christ return in the clouds.

  • Herperchick

    I think that the “Great Deception” and the “Falling away” that Paul speaks of would have to be something Huge in order to make Christians fall away from faith in Jesus. I sincerely believe that the world governments will disclose that we are being visited my so called “Aliens” from outer space. As Christians, most will know that aliens are actually the demons of Satan, cast to earth by God. The ancient alien therory is one that teaches the human race was created by these aliens. They will point out so called “truths” and turn the Bible around to show how certain scripture is referring to them. The leader of the “Aliens” will be the anti-Christ. This has been planned since the beginning of time. These so called aliens are actually the Nephilem that came together with human women, creating Giants, and interfering in Gods plan and was the reason God destroyed the earth with a flood. It makes perfect sense, with all this talk about extraterrestrials. They did not come from outer space, they were already here! I once heard a chilling sermon given by a priest from the Vatican who twisted scripture around to “prove” the ancient alien theory! Very scary!!

  • John117

    and im not going to live like a monk. jesus never told his disciples to stay in one place in a safety bubble.

  • John117

    the bible says those who dont work dont eat so what am i supposed to volunteer? is that the way the truth and the life? is discipleship programs the way the truth and the life? am i not allowed to have a job or go to college to expand upon the skills and talents god gave me? seems super legalistic. this is the same crossroads i come to i dont want to be deceived so bad that i cant do anything because it will interfere with my salvation when it really shouldnt. so stupid. it should be simple yet satan wants to make it complicated and so do people.

  • Reverend Jim

    I don't believe that the harlot represents "the false church". That is no less than attributing all the evils of the end-times to the CHURCH. How does anyone decipher just who the TRUE church is? They all believe they all have the truth! AND! Why would anybody want to convert to Christ when the church actually teaches that this 'harlot' comes from the church! That is self destructive self demonization.
    The harlot is ISLAM!

  • need to know

    Maybe I'm misguided. Paul said not to be deceived. Doesn't/didn't that mean that you must know something of the truth and then have it's foundation shaken within you so that you then come to believe something that is divergent from the truth that you know or knew? How can you fall away/depart from something you never knew before you "fell" away? Isn't that like saying that I jump off of a cliff trying to fly never knowing that humans can't fly in and of their own abilities? Isn't Paul talking about true Christians (not confessing ones) that know the truth and then through some weakness "fall" for the Antichrists bull? The people who don't know Christ won't need to be deceived. They don't need to be tricked into giving up the promise. They've never taken hold of it in the first place. Just my thought process.

  • TAMMY Dawn

    Hallo. Ik really have to tell you something wonderful. When Paul talks about the falling away of the church. He is talking about " every human being on the earth that believe in Him,everyou body's name who is in God book and every person on earth filled with the beautiful Holy Spirit. " you could read it like this. Give no belief to false words: because there will first be a falling away STOP! I Believe this'll be the rapture when Christ will return for His promised people! Me and you I hope hihihi...continuing;
    from the church , THEN IT GOES ON TO SAY ,and the revelation of the man of sin, the son of destruction, AS WE ALL KNOW SATAN WILL TURN UP... BUT WE WILL BE GONE. AMEN
    I really hope you can receive this amazing revelation. Dawn

  • John117

    there are no new "revelations" jesus christ was the only revelation. 2 peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. And Matthew 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

  • jledbetter

    Wilson, I appreciate your thought process. This ‘falling away’ warning is for all who have had an opportunity to believe and confess faith in Jesus as their personal Savior in this present lifetime.
    Jesus Christ told His apostles to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in His name. Most people who are familiar with the Bible realize that those apostles zealously embarked on that mission. People assume that all, or at least almost all, who bear the name Christian follow the beliefs, teachings and practices of Jesus Christ. But the Bible tells us that not everyone who accepts the name of Christ is really a Christian! Jesus foretold that some would claim His name but deny Him by their actions. He said they would “call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’” but “not do the things which I say” (Luke 6:46).
    God is proving and selecting a very elect that love and obey the truth (Deuteronomy 13:3-4; Matthew 5:19-20). It is important therefore that we read and heed the warnings and instructions of the prophets, Jesus Christ and His apostles. We need to avoid the deceptions and snares of Satan and of the world and of our own vanity and sin.

  • Reverend Jim

    Jay, It amazes me that nearly all Christians attribute apostasy to themselves when there's not one reason to believe so. Apostasy is an end-time rebellious EVENT that takes place just before the man of sin appears because it's what brings him on. Notice how other religions define apostasy and how they are similar. It's only the Christian definition that's different. This is the web definition of apostasy.
    Apostasy - (noun) 1The act of abandoning a party or cause.
    2. The state of having rejected your religious beliefs, political party, cause or sports team in favor of opposing beliefs, causes or teams.
    3 A defection, renunciation, disaffiliation, abandonment or revolt from a previous association.
    4 (Islamic definition) Rejection in word or deed of one's former religion.
    5 (Christian definition) To fall away from the truth.
    The only one that's incorrect is the Christian one! Look at my reply above about the words "BUT WE" in verse 13. That proves the apostasy is all about the followers of the man of sin. Why would go send strong delusion upon Christians? Apostasy is a rebellion and abandonment of a previous affiliation. It's not heresy or a lack of devotion.

  • John117

    it shouldnt be so complicated to be saved. moses made plenty of mistakes and god didnt cast him off to hell right? jesus is the only one who got it right. if it is really so narrow then romans 8:28 shouldnt even be in the bible. shouldnt the holy spirit just make it simple for us? shouldnt it be simple? this is what turns people away. when they get threatened by god to do this or die to chase perfection or ill shake this cardboard sign over your head that says watch out you can go to hell for that if you dont do everything perfectly. know the context of what im saying? it shouldnt be some psychotic post apocalyptic affair about getting right with god when we have already been made right by faith. there are so many contradictions all over scripture.

  • John117

    and this is what makes me angry and not want to do anything because he says all over the word oh well jesus is the author and finisher of our faith and he who started a good work in you will be faithful to complete it at the day of christ. nobody no disciple is perfectly obedient. so im sure by the lord lord scripture you gave a lot of people are going to hell then. and thats what its always about. oh here have freewill and youre saved now but if you screw up we have an advocate jesus christ the righteous but youre going to hell because you didnt obey. then salvation is by obedience and not just jesus christ and it doesnt become a gift anymore he said saved by grace through faith and not by works so no man should boast and yes i know faith without works is dead. yet no one is on fire for the lord all the tie. where would true faith be tested if not in the valleys holy crap dude. the road is narrow and few enter i realize those scriptures and the one that says if the righteous are scarcely saved then what about the ungodly and the sinner. so if he tells them i dont know you then he didnt predestine them in the first place if you can lose your salvation as easily as judas did.

  • Cathymoulard2012


  • vcvc36

    The "Great Falling Away", doesn't have anything to do with the Church. The "Great Falling Away" has to do with mens hearts. They would be mislead and are allowed to believe the lie. Jesus said that the gates of Hades will not prevail over His Church, meaning it would never fail. This is straight from scripture. If you go back in time, 500 years ago or so, everyones family was Catholic if Christian, meaning the "Great Falling Away" are more than likely Protestants. The Catholic church and/or pope has nothing to do with the "Great Falling Away" because Jesus Church would never fail, it would be impossible because He said so if you believe the Bible. There is no need for Protestant churches. You trust and obey an 2000 year old book, called the Bible, right? But you can't trust and obey and 2000 year old church? What is the problem? Doesn't that make you hypocritical? Your ancestors didn't have any problem with the Catholic church for 1200 years. Plus, the Catholic church Bible has 73 books, not 66 like yours and it means incomplete. Incomplete Bible gives you false teachings and lies. This my friend is the great falling away happening right now near an place closto you.

  • John117

    the holy spirit never told me hey go read the book of enoch hey go read this and that from the catholic church. the holy spirit is the great confirmation giver is he not?

  • hniccum

    You will find a lot of great biblical factual information here as well as many wonderful people to light the path.

  • sweet1956

    The Catholic Church is a false religion. It tells you in the Bible not to worship idols, but yet you worship Mary. You don't have to have a Priest or anyone else to pray for you for forgiveness of your sins. You can go to God yourself. When Jesus came and died and was resurrected He is the go between for us not a man. The Bible tells you not to call any man Father, because God is the only Father, He is the Heavenly Father. The Bible does not say anything about a purgatory. There is only heaven and hell no inbetween. Then Catholics thank that they are the ones who are going to heaven, but that isn't what the Bible says. It says if you take Jesus Christ for your Savior, and believe that He is the Son of God, and ask for forgiveness of your sins you are saved. It is an abomination what your Pope says about the Bible and Jesus. To say the Word of God is nothing, but fairy tale is blasphemy. And now he is trying to bring all faith's together and every denomination to all worship together, PLEASE BE FOR REAL. I can go on with this, but I believe you get the point here....

  • Sabrina Peabody

    If you look back at history, the Church of God traces its roots back through those who kept the Sabbath and Commandments of God. The Sabbath is a sign of God's people (Exodus 31:17) was kept by Christ and the apostles (Acts 17:1-3), and will be kept at Christ's return (Isaiah 66:22-23). The Catholic church has always rejected the Fourth Commandment, changing the day of worship to Sunday (no where said to keep as a holy day in the Bible or by God). So it is not correct in saying the Church of God is hypocritical in that point. Plus, are we to put our hope in a man or in God's Word? The Bible is God's Word and can be trusted because it is from Him/God-breathed. Just because there is "more" of something does not mean that those additional books have proven true or are pure--that is why they were left out. If you ask people, a lot will not have read their entire Bibles through even once in their life! When you do, you can quickly see when certain ideas or texts conflict with the majority of the Bible, its themes and the character of God.

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