The Meaning of 2 Thessalonians 2:3
Dr. Allen Barber
February 7, 2012

2 Thessalonians 2:3 KJV  Textus Receptus 

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall no come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 

The Original Greek 

no man you let/deceive by any means for except there come a falling away first and be revealed that man of sin the son of perdition;

A reader asked me to comment on this verse, so here is my understanding. First, it must be understood in the context and subject matter of verses 1-2, which is the Day of the Lord:

1 Now we beseech you, brethren by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and by our gathering together unto Him. 
2 That you be not soon shaken in mind or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of the Lord is at hand.

It is clear the subject matter is the Second Coming of Jesus including the resurrection and rapture of the saints on the day of the Lord. The primary concern of the Thessalonians was what happens on the day of the Lord as seem in Verse 2 - that the day of the Lord is at hand (Greek says imminent). They wanted to know when that day occurred and what was the status of the living and departed saints. Now realize that all biblical interpretation must be understood in the larger book context. 

For example, Paul had discussed the resurrection and rapture in his first letter to the Thessalonians (4:13-18).  From that letter they knew the resurrection and rapture was the same event not separated by seven years as Pretrib teaches. How do we know that?  Well, we need to consult the Greek. Notice in Verse 1 the Greek definite article (ho or tees - "the") is used before the coming of the Lord, but not before our gathering together unto Him. The Greek rule (Granville Sharp) for the definite article (the) is that when the copulative kai (and) connects two nouns of the same case, if the article ho or any of its cases precedes the first of the said nouns or particles and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle, i.e., it denotes a further description of the first named person.    

Since the first person mentioned is the Lord Jesus preceded by the definite article (the) and the second mention of Him is connected by kai (and) but with no definite article to include the second noun or participle - our gathering unto Him, then by Greek definition the event is one and the same - the saints are gathered to the Lord on the posttrib Day of the Lord. No other interpretation is allowed and would be grammatically incorrect such as a pretrib rapture before the posttrib Second Coming.  The bodily visible return of the Lord is vitally connected to the the resurrection and rapture, which precludes a secret rapture seven years earlier. 

You must understand this in order to properly interpret Verse 3. Now let's examine Verse 3 from the Greek,; one word or phrase at a time:

no man you let/deceive by any means for except there come a falling away first and be revealed that man of sin the son of perdition;

no man is meetis from the root word - me which is a primary participle of a qualified negation expressing an absolute denial. Paul is saying never allow anyone to teach or deceive you about the Day of the Lord, that is, absolutely deny anyone that possibility. This is a strong wording in the Greek language with undertones of righteous indignation. 

you let deceive is exapatao which means to wholly and completely seduce.  It is what Satan did to Eve - he wholly and completely seduced her with his lies.  Many professing believers are being seduced by so-called Christian con artists and false teachers. They are running here and there mesmerized by smooth talking deceivers that lift their money out of their pockets and feed them with feel good doctrine.  This is dangerous particularly in the end generation in which we live.

by is kata which means down or under. It's parallel thought is to be cast under a spell. Ever heard of a witches spell? That is what witches do by demonic powers. Paul is warning by the little word kata that deception leads to demonic invasion or oppression. 

any is medeis meaning not even one man, woman or thing. That is about as clear as a bell to its meaning - do not allow anyone or anything to place you under a demonic spell of false doctrine and lies. 

means is tropos from trepo - to turn in the opposite direction; a 360 degree revolution; to deport. False doctrine, seduction and lies turn the saints away from the Lord and the truth of God's Word. Paul says do not allow that to happen by not giving the seducer even a hearing. 

for is hoti - neuter conjunction; demonstrative - that; causative - because.  

that day shall not come - neither found in the Textus Receptus - the manuscript from which the KJV was translated or the other major Greek Texts such as Nestle-Aland, which is the basis for most of the New Testament Greek translations into English. This phrase was added by the KJV translators to add clarity to the context. Since the Day of the Lord is the major subject of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-9, it is not unreasonable to use the phrase. However, to be true to the Greek, the phrase is not in the original Greek manuscripts. Unfortunately, we do not have the original manuscripts of the New Testament writers. The oldest versions date to around 300 A.D. but some claim an early date of around 100 A.D. which would be the time of the Apostle John.  While I am not a Greek scholar, but had the privilege to study Greek in seminary as well as personal study the past 40 years, it is my opinion the omitted phrase in Verse 3 implies the Day of the Lord for if you leave out the phrase the verse seems disconnected to the context and the subject. Look above at the Greek text and read it without the phrase - that day shall not come and notice the awkwardness and seemingly abrupt ending without a clear conclusion.  In the context of Verses 1 and 2, the clear implication is a reference to the Day of the Lord.

except is ean me which means indefiniteness or uncertainty. The idea is that unless the two events occur which the following Greek words define, the timing for the Day of the Lord as well as the meaning of the day itself is uncertain or unknown. The two events that follow ean me set apart the Day of the Lord as a mandatory conclusion for a future fulfillment, that is, after the two events are fulfilled. 

there come is erchomai - the middle voice of a primary verb used only in the present and imperfect tenses meaning to come or go. The middle voice in Greek shows the subject acting in its own interest or on its behalf or participating  in the results of the action. In the context of Verse 3, it is participating in the results of the action - the Day of the Lord will come after certain things occur. 

a falling away - apostasia (feminine) and  the same as apostasion meaning something separative; divorce;  a defection from the truth. Notice the word has the same meaning as divorce. In my book on divorce and remarriage I show that divorce among believers that is unlawful or illegal according to the Word of God and in the eyes of God is the same as being an apostate. If believers understood this there would be fewer divorces in the body of Christ.  The separation does not mean a departure from this earth as in a pretrib rapture. No, it means a separation and a defection from the body of truth, namely the Bible - the Word of God. Society will become less and less tolerate of biblical truth until it is totally rejected by unbelievers. This prepares the way for the next event - the appearance of the Antichrist claiming deity for himself. We are in the apostasy now but it will reach a point of no tolerance for God's moral laws.

first is prooton meaning first in time, place or importance. It also has  the definite article -ho. Therefore, the Greek reads "the first" emphasizing that the apostasy and the appearance of the Antichrist must take place first before the Day of the Lord can come. This was one of the keys I understood about the day of the Lord in writing my book on the subject.  

and is kai - a primary participle having a copulative or a cumulative force meaning even, so then, etc. It is often used in connection with other particles or small words. Remember that when the copulative kai (and) connects two nouns of the same case, if the article ho (the) or any of its cases precedes the first of the said nouns or particles and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle, i.e., it denotes a further description of the first named person.  
be revealed is apokalupto - to take off the cover; to disclose; off;  away. The mystery of iniquity is now kalupto -hiding or covering up, but when the Antichrist appears, it is apokalupto - the cover or secrecy is uncovered.  All the secret societies working in stealth or behind the scenes such as Freemasonry, Kabbalism, etc., will no longer hide but come out of the closet. This is when a world conspiracy will be fully known and all the naysayers that disbelieved such was taking place will have egg on their faces as well as shock to learn some of the liberal left-wing agendas was to bring about their demise not the glory days.

that  is ho - the definite article meaning something specific and not general. So the Greek says "the man". Since the definite article is used before both the falling away and the man of sin, it means they are separate actions.  The falling away occurs first then the man of sin appears. They are not the same thing as occurring in time. The apostasy takes place during the first 3 1/2 years of the tribulation, that is, to reach its apex of intolerance for truth. Then the Antichrist appears at the beginning of the last 3 1/2 years to force his mark and government on the unbelieving world. 

man is anthropos. i.e. a member of the human race. The Antichrist is not going to be some supernatural or angelic being, but a mere man who is sold out to the devil in the likeness of Hitler.

of is again ho - the definite article pointing to particular action meaning "the man". While the antichrist is human, he will be a unique and special character produced by Satan just as Judas was chosen by Satan to betray Jesus.  He is among the human race, but chosen for an end time personage endued with special powers by the devil.

sin is anomias from nomia meaning law but with the negative "a" without law. It also means illegality, violation of the law or wickedness. 

the is ho - the definite article denoting specificity. The Antichrist will have the same mindset as Judas in that he will deny the Lord Jesus but in an even greater way - claiming to replace him. The better meaning of Antichrist is substitute or replacement.  This is the abomination of desolation for the Antichrist will make the world a place of desolation and ruin. 

son is huios pronounced hwee-os. It means kinship. The only way a human can have kinship with the devil is to sell his soul to him. The Antichrist will be, and this is important, a SATANIST.  He will come from the Luciferian Order that worships Satan. The Church of Satan is one example but the more prominent entity is Masonic Kabbalism that worships Lucifer as the Son of God not Jesus. The higher Masonic degrees (29th - 33rd) are Satan worshipers. Jewish Kabbalism is the religion of Freemasonry which Albert Pike admitted in his book entitled Morals and Dogma. Pike was the leader of North American Freemasonry. I personally believe the Antichrist will come from Freemasonry. 

of is tees (ho) and the definite article.  The Antichrist is "the son" of  "the perdition." 

perdition is apoleia meaning ruin or loss. It is a derivative of apollumi - to destroy fully, to perish or lose physical, spiritual, or eternal. As mentioned only two personages are called the Son of Perdition in the Bible - Judas and the Antichrist. The Antichrist will be diabolical in his nature and doomed to the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:20).

Read this exegesis carefully and notice how many times the Greek definite article is used to emphasize the uniqueness of the events and actors appearing on the scene in the last days or the end generation which is now in progress. The clear meaning of the Verse is understood by the Greek words in the text. Study them and you will understand the apostasy and the revelation of the man of sin as well as the timing. 

God bless.