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Critics claim that if the Bible predicts an apostasy from the church founded by Jesus Christ, it is nevertheless not a "complete" apostasy.
There are clear Biblical teachings of an apostasy. Attempts to argue otherwise must disregard a great deal of Biblical data.
The Greek word translated as "apostasy" (αποστασία) meaning a defection or revolt, from απο, apo, "away, apart", στασις, stasis, "standing". Thus, an "apostasy" is not a failure of the Church due to persecution from without, but is fundamentally about the betrayal of the Church from within.
The Bible predicts an apostasy before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ:
- 1 NOW we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
- 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
- 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition... (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3)(emphasis added)
The Greek word translated "falling away" in the King James Version is αποστασία, apostasy.
Other translations render it:
- Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. 3Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (NIV) off-site
- 1Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,
- 2that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
- 3Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction... (New American Standard Version) off-site
Paul also taught that after his departure, people from within and without the Church would change doctrine and lead the members astray:
- 28 ¶ Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
- 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
- 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:28-30)
Paul warned Timonthy:
- 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
- 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4} (emphasis added)
Peter also taught that false teachers would be present in the Church and would seek to deceive members:
- 1 BUT there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
- 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.(2 Peter 2:1-2)