"There shall come a falling away first, and that man of sin (shall) be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God... For the mystery of iniquity doth already work... whose coming is after the working of Satan with all the power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" (2Th. 2:3,4,7,9-11).How would this apostasy develop? It would grow up gradually in the early ecclesia. It would gain its impetus from greedy and ambitious worldly "bishops", who had forgotten (or never learned) the admonitions of Paul (1Ti 3:1-7).
"For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 1:4; cf 2Pe 2:1).Greek philosophy and the Gnostic mysteries were embraced by some leaders in the early ecclesia. There was (and still is) something appealing about the mysterious. Since many of the converts were of this persuasion before baptism, they would perhaps bring with them into the ecclesia doctrines other than the Truth. Another element which led to the adulteration of the Truth was the teaching of the Judaizers (Acts 15:1; Gal 5:1-3; Rev 2:9). This was warned against by Paul (Gal 1:6-9; 1Ti 1:4-7). Several years before, when Paul had spoken personally to the elders of Ephesus, he had told them this:
"Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:30).The union of the two apostate systems (Greek-Roman paganism and corrupted Judaism) -- from whence the Catholic system sprang -- was prophesied in Zech. 5: Here the prophet saw a woman sitting within an ephah, a measuring container used in trade. She was called a "curse" (v 3) and "wickedness" (v 8) and she originally resided at Jerusalem where ungodly priests "made merchandise" of religion. But she was lifted up from the earth and carried to a new dwelling place in Shinar or the land of Babylon (v 11). The woman represented the Jewish apostasy, with its cold formalism, its "letter of the law" rather than the spirit. She was the murderer of the Lord, and she resided in Jerusalem until 70 AD, when the temple was overthrown and the Jews scattered. But the same spirit of apostasy was carried over into Christianity -- the evidence of which may be seen throughout Paul's letter to the Galatians and in Acts 15, where certain Jewish Christians were contending that Gentile converts must be circumcised and keep the law. This false 'woman' held her children in bondage to the Law of Moses, which had been done away with in Christ.
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times
some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines
"Take heed that no man deceive you... for many shall come in my name... and shall deceive many... And many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many... and shall show great signs and wonders" (Mat 24:4,5,11,24).That Jesus is sometimes (after his glorification) referred to as "the Spirit" may be seen in various references: The messages to the seven ecclesias in Asia, are sent from the one holding the seven stars in his right hand (Rev 2:1), having been dead and yet now being alive (v.8), the "Son of God" (v.18), etc. But those same letters are also described as "what the Spirit saith unto the ecclesias" (Rev 2:7,11,17,29, etc). And again, Paul refers to the glorified Jesus as a "quickening (i.e. life-giving) Spirit" in 1Co 15:45.
"And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end."(In the Bible, "some" may often be read as "many" -- as in John 6:64,66: "'There are some of you that believe not'... From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." (See also note regarding "some", 1:3.)
"And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved" (Mat 24:11-13).Yes, these words may have had applications to other ages than our own. But who can deny their fitness even today?
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."These men with their false doctrines wander from place to place. They creep stealthily into a group; they travel wherever itching ears are ready to receive their words.
"These are spots in your feast of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever." (Jude 11-13).Certainly a warning to those in Paul's and Jude's time, but no less a warning to us today!
"Chrysostom, in his homily on the martyrs of Egypt, says: 'The bodies of those saints fortify the city more effectually for us than impregnable walls of adamant; and like towering rocks placed around on every side, repel not only the assaults of enemies that are visible, but the insidious stratagems also of invisible demons, and counteract and defeat every artifice of the devil as a strong man overturns the toys of children'. The Greeks and Latins made the most of these wonderful martyrs. Believing in ghosts, or disembodied human spirits, they proclaimed the translation of their shades to heaven to act as mediators and intercessors with the Virgin and her Son; but kept their bones and dust in church-shrines to protect, defend, or guard them from all enemies, demons, and other evils to which the flesh is subject. Speaking of these times of intense superstition, Gibbon says: 'The Christians of the seventh century had insensibly relapsed into a semblance of paganism; their public and private vows were addressed to the relics and images that disgraced the temples of the east; the throne of the Almighty was darkened by a cloud of martyrs, saints, and angels, the objects of popular veneration; and the Collyridian heretics, who flourished in the fruitful soil of Arabia, invested the Virgin Mary with the name and honours of a goddess'." (Exposition of Daniel, p. 62; see the entire sections, "A God of Guardians" and "Guardian's Bazaars", pp.61-70.)Some would translate this last phrase of v 1 as "doctrines taught by demons" (NIV), thus making it virtually equivalent to the preceding "seducing spirits". There is no difficulty in accepting such a translation when it is recognized that "demons" are in reality men who are possessed -- by the "demons" of mental illness and delusion. In a very real sense, men who imagine and teach the existence of disembodied spirits may become that which they worship -- demonizing and seducing "spirits" who corrupt others. It was said of the false gods in David's day, that "they that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them" (Psa 115:8).
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared
with a hot iron.
"Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness" (Eph 4:18, 19).God only goes so far with such people. If they continue in their course of willful sin, He will at last leave them completely (2 Thess. 2:11; Rom 1:28).
Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats,
which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe
and know the truth.
For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be
refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.
"Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled" (Tit 1:15).The word refused or "rejected" (RSV, NIV) literally means "to be thrown away". This is what Peter learned so dramatically, when he saw a certain vessel descending from heaven with all manner of animals therein. He was commanded by God to kill and eat, but he protested, only to be rebuked: "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common". And Peter was able to say, "God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean" (Acts 10:9-16, 28). Our Lord also says, "There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him" (Mark 7:15). In this very matter of eating, again Paul has said that dietary differences among people are of no consequence:
"For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him" (Rom 14:2,3).All things given by God for our nourishment should be put to their intended use. The good gifts of God are to be put to good use, "for the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof (1Co 10:26). In 1Co 8; 9 Paul explains that certain of these good gifts were put to evil use in idolatrous sacrifices. And he leaves us the principle, that some things are to be refused, if only for the reason that their use might cause scrupulous brethren to stumble. (Such verses as in Rom 14 must not be used to justify abusive, impure practices like smoking and drinking. The context of the various passages here indicates that Paul is speaking of food, items to be used for nourishment).
"Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you" (John 15:3; cp Psa 119:9).
For it is sanctified by the word of God and
"I have been young, and now am old: yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread" (Psa 37:25).
"The eyes of all wait upon Thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season... The Lord preserveth all them that love him" (Psa 145:15,20).The custom of rendering thanks to the Father, at mealtimes especially, finds many precedents in Scripture. Among others, we have the following: