Read verses 1-3
Q: So what is the very first thing that will take place prior to Christ’s return, even before all the signs and wonders predicted for the Last Days?
A: “…apostasy comes first…” (v.3)
Q: What does “apostasy” mean?
A: It means “falling away”.
Q: From what specifically will there be a great “falling away”?
A: The Word of God. This is indicated by the fact that Paul’s warning is to not be “shaken” or “disturbed” by false teaching or false prophecy.
Q: In Christ’s own “Olivet Discourse” (Mt. 24-25; also Mk. 13 & Lk. 21), what is the thing He repeatedly warns about concerning His return more than any other thing?
- “See to it that no one misleads you.” (24:4)
- “For many will come in my name…and will mislead many.” (24:5)
- “At that time many will fall away…” (24.10)
- “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.” (24:11)
- “…false Christs and false prophets will arise…so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.” (24:24)
- “…do not believe them.” (24:27)
- “Therefore be on the alert…” (24:42)
- “…you also must be ready…” (24:44)
- “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” (25:13)
Point: Christ expends four times more emphasis on remaining alert against apostasy and deception than any other sign of His return.
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.
— 1 Timothy 4:1-3
Q: What are the chief identifying characteristics of those leading others into apostasy in this passage from 1 Timothy?
A: They’re both hypocrites and liars, people who don’t put into practice the whole Word of God and who distort it into something different from what God originally intended.
Q: And what are some examples of their false teachings provided here?
A: They “forbid marriage” and “advocate abstaining from food”. In other words, they create something that “feels” religious but is not biblically supportable. They entice others to exchange personal experiences for faith and obedience to God’s Word.
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.
Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
— 2 Timothy 3
Q: What are the chief characteristics of those leading others into apostasy according to 2 Timothy 3?
A: They hold “to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power”, they “oppose the truth”, and they will be “impostors” who “proceed from bad to worse”.
Q: What are some examples of their bad behavior/false teaching provided here?
A: They’re actually lovers of everything having to do with this world, actively pursue immoral relationships, interested in Scripture but not comprehending it.
Q: How does one resist deception? What is the proper preparation to prevent it from happening to you personally?
A: Not just consistently living according to the Word of God, but measuring all things by it.
‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false;
— Revelation 2:2
Point: Jesus hates the false and not only stood up to them in the course of His own earthly ministry, but here commends those who test and oppose them.
Q: What is the second thing that will happen before Christ’s return?
A: “…the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction”. (v.3)
Q: Who is the “man of lawlessness”?
A: He is the Antichrist as revealed in Daniel 7:25, 8:25, 11:36, and Rev. 13:5
Q: Who is the “son of destruction”?
A: This can also be translated as the “son of perdition”. There is only one other person called this in Scripture – Judas.
“While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.
— John 17:12
Point: Judas is the most important type of the Antichrist. To know more about the Antichrist, learn everything you can about Judas. For example, no one knew who he was until Christ revealed him by giving him the morsel at the Last Supper, he became personally possessed by Satan, when he left to do his work it was “night” – the biblical metaphor for the Tribulation, and when he returns to attack Christ there is a great falling away – a type of apostasy – of people followed by persecution.
Application: The Great Apostasy must first take place followed by the revelation to all Believers of the identity of the Antichrist. How can you tell that the Last Days have already begun? What still needs to take place?