Personal Update & Exegetical Research on 2 Thessalonians 2 :1-12

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! My own is is ongoing as my wife and I are boarding a plane to spend a week with her parents in Iowa.  I really appreciate those of you who read my posts here on a regular basis and I have some exciting news. First, I finished my Masters of Arts degree in Theological Studies at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary last Fall semester. While now I have some credentials to serve in this capacity, I have hopes of perhaps teaching at the college or seminary level, so I will be pursing further study at Southeastern Baptist Theological seminary this Spring. I will be concentrating on Greek intensives, with the goal of entering the PhD program in the near future. Second, I have signed a contract to co-author a book with Tom Horn on the Malachy Prophecy of the Popes. The reason I have not posted here much lately is that I have been working 14 hour days on that project. I assure you the subject is much deeper than I ever imagined. The research for this book has taken me places I never imagined possible. Look for some jaw dropping revelations this Spring.

My last research project  for my Master’s Degree was an exegetical paper on Paul’s most definitive statement concerning the Antichrist and end-times, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. It is a notoriously difficult pericope for exegesis but I chose it due to my deep interest in things eschatological.  Fee and Stuart even use it as an example of “problem passages:”

In many cases the reason the texts are so difficult for us is that, frankly, they were not written to us. That is, the original author and his readers are on a similar wavelength that allows the inspired author to assume a great deal on the part of his readers. Thus, for example, when Paul tells the Thessalonians that they are to recall that he “used to tell [them] these things,” and therefore “you know what is holding him back” (2 Thess 2:5–6), we may need to learn to be content with our lack of knowledge. [1]

Even so, I think this passage has a very important word for us today. In lieu of cutting an pasting the entire paper, I am going to post the introduction and a link to down load the pdf if yu want to read the whole thing. I derive several important implications for the modern church which I may post later as a separate post but  I wanted to make it available to you now as 2012 promises to be a big year.


No one likes waiting. Patience, persistence and perseverance are not popular words. They convey capricious craving, laborious longing and unrequited love. How intense is the longing when waiting for one of infinite worth? Christians live in the tension of what is called the “already but not yet” paradigm. This refers to the idea that Christ inaugurated the kingdom at the first advent but it will not be fully realized until the second at the eschaton. Gordon Fee writes, “The theological framework of the entire New Testament is eschatological.”[2] Thus, there is a tension inherent in the Christian worldview that eclipses all the yearnings of adolescence. It is the groaning of creation itself (Rom 8:22).

The purpose of this paper is to interpret 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 using sound exegetical methodology. This presentation will first give a survey of the historical and literary context, and then it will offer exegesis of the text. Difficulties arise because Paul assumes knowledge on the part of the original recipients that subsequent generations do not have. Allusions to the Old Testament will be discussed based on Paul’s background. Each issue will be handled sequentially. The paper will attempt to show that because we still live in the apocalyptic tension of the already/not yet, the eschatological content still has great value for the contemporary church. Paul taught the Thessalonian church that they would recognize the “day of the Lord” by two harbingers: the apostasy and the appearance of the man of lawlessness.

Download: 2 Thessalonians 2 Exegetical Research – Cris D. Putnam


[1]Gordon D. Fee and Douglas K. Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993), 69.

[2]Ibid, 145.

GK Beale on the Frog in the Kettle & the Mystery of Lawlessness

I have been digging deeply into 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 for my exegetical research paper in Hermeneutics. While I am not in agreement with Beale on his Amillennialism, I do appreciate his scholarship. I found this description of the “mystery of lawlessness” leading to the final apostasy particularly sobering for the contemporary church.

What is it that continually energizes the lawless and worldly spirit of the age throughout history? Why do culture and some sectors of the church promote moral and religious relativity? What is it that makes the spirit of worldliness so attractive and compelling? Paul explains in 2:1–12 that the spirit of the antichrist, “the man of lawlessness,” is already presently working to influence and deceive not only our culture but also the church about the truth. This spirit will effectively deceive some throughout the age, and the deception will reach a climax at some future point. Like the proverbial “frog in a kettle” that is unable, because of its cold-blooded nature, to sense gradual increases in water temperature until it is too late (and it is boiled), God’s people sometimes fail to perceive subtle shifts away from God’s truth. When the spiritual heat of false teaching or deception comes, we sometimes do not readily recognize it because of our spiritual cold-heartedness. Are we like the frog that is beginning to boil? If people have not truly believed that Jesus suffered on the cross the punishment they deserve and that he rose again from the dead to give life, they are presently in a state of deception that could be the beginning of final punishment. Those genuinely having believed need to keep recalling the truth of God’s Word in order to prevent deception.[1]

[1] G. K. Beale, 1-2 Thessalonians, The IVP New Testament commentary series (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 200), 224.

My Testimony & Interview on NTR with Chris White

Here is my testimony, if you know someone who has struggled with addictions this might encourage them. I told the truth, even the ugly parts, to showcase the grace of God. If he can redeem and use someone like me then there is hope for anyone. My life verse is “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (Jn 8:36).

Here is the link: NTR – Cris Putnam Testimony & Interview

Conversion Testimony

My will was the enemy master of, and thence had made a chain for me and bound me. Because of a perverse will was lust made; and lust indulged in became custom; and custom not resisted became necessity. By which links, as it were, joined together (whence I term it a “chain”), did a hard bondage hold me enthralled.

~ Augustine, Confessions 8.10

Like Augustine, I was not a Christian for most of my young adulthood. I was a bright and curious child. Through a sequence of unfortunate life experiences I became very skeptical of the Christian faith. At times, I was hostile to it. I thought it was nonsense and I felt I had good reasons to think so. I had gone to a Methodist church until age four. I have very vague yet fond memories of my father holding me up in a grape vine behind the church. However, things went downhill fast. My parents stopped going to church when my baby brother became ill and lost his hearing. I believe they blamed God. My mother would not stop crying. My father turned to alcohol and my family life became violent and unpredictable. It was the early 1970s and I saw faith healers on television that allegedly healed the deaf. Once at age six or so, I even called their hotline and challenged them to heal my brother’s deafness. Yet God did not heal my brother. I decided it was all staged and that Christianity was a useful fiction that comforted gullible people. My family life grew more unstable as my Father’s alcoholism progressed.

Although I showed promise in math and science, I was attracted to the counterculture of the 1970s and looked up to rock stars. I worked hard at music and had dreams of being a famous rock guitar player. In reality, I pursued the profligate life style harder than the actual music proficiency and I made many bad choices. My teenage years were dominated by rebellion and hedonism. Sin rendered me empty and hopeless. Drugs seemed to be my only source of relief but they never lasted. As I struggled with addiction, I incurred criminal charges for DWI and drug possession. I had a sense of right and wrong that only instilled shame and depression. As an adult, I became hopelessly addicted to drugs. I was in and out of multiple treatment centers and twelve step programs. I had substantial periods (even years) of clean time but I always eventually relapsed. This was an extremely frustrating and humiliating existence.  In due course, I just gave up and was using with a suicidal intent. I was at my wits end.  Somewhere along the way my Mother had found comfort attending Providence Baptist Church.  Not expecting much, I went along just to make her happy and something extraordinary happened. Pastor David Horner was preaching right to me as if he were reading my mind. Rhetorical questions like, “Who are you to tell God that your life is no longer worth living?” pierced to the core of my soul. God began to call me. I realized I needed Jesus but I was not sure what to believe. I went to a life class and later a young seminary student called me to welcome me to the class and asked if I had any questions. I responded that I had a lot of questions and he offered to come by. I was extremely skeptical yet Dennis was very patient and came every Thursday for months to go through the Bible with me. I know today that God sent Dennis to witness to me because he was uniquely qualified to break through my skepticism.

I had a cynical attitude and trusted no one but Dennis was an unusual person.  I was expecting to see hypocrisy in his character or an ulterior motive for his visit. I figured I was just a notch on his evangelism stick. I arrogantly thought my brilliant objections might cause him to question his faith. He was very mild mannered and polite having received Christ at around six years of age. I understand now that Dennis was holy. He was truly set apart and I truly have never met anyone like him since, even at church. He was a thirty-two year old virgin who had never been on a date because he had promised the Lord he would wait until he was prepared for ministry to seek a wife. Yet he was not legalistic or judgmental.  Dennis woke up at 4:00 AM to pray for a list of people. Even years later, he told me, “I pray for you every day.”  I did not have a category for this level of genuineness. As much as I now like apologetics, he did not convince me with words. Ultimately, it was Dennis’ reflection of Christ that led me to Jesus.  He did not judge my past or my relapses into drug use. He loved me like I was and eventually my heart broke. I still had a lot of questions and objections but I was willing to set them aside and invite Christ into my life. At that time, I was extremely depressed and sick with liver disease. However, when I asked Jesus to come into my life a sense of comfort came over me that was undeniably supernatural. That happened ten years ago and I will never forget it.  The biggest change is that I am a completely different person. I am free from addiction and disease and have found a wonderful Christian wife. I play in the praise band and even teach the life class where I first met Dennis. Today Dennis is a pastor with a wife and three kids and now I am in seminary because I want to defend the truth and help skeptics like my former self answer the hard questions.

I would like to share how something like this can happen to you. First, you likely have never gone down as far as I did. I am not proud of it but in a sense, I believe I am fortunate because when I finally heard the Gospel I did not doubt my sinfulness. I knew I needed a savior and that is the hardest part for many people. I used to think Christians thought they were better than everyone else but I found out that real Christians actually believe they are sinners. The truth is that everyone falls short of God’s standard. It does not matter who you are or what you have accomplished, everyone needs Jesus.  The first thing you need to do is to acknowledge that you are sinner. Then you should confess your sin to God and ask for his forgiveness. Thank him for paying the penalty for your sin by dying on the cross. Believe that Jesus is God and proved it when he rose from the dead. Ask him to come into your life and be Lord. His death has paid your debt and there is no condemnation for those in Christ. I hope you will ask him now.


Patrick Heron’s End Time Eisegesis

By Cris D. Putnam

Patrick Heron likely means well but zeal comes before knowledge. He invokes the end times to assert that only now God is revealing special insight on the prophetic scriptures (apparently to himself). In other words, all the great expositors and scholars of the past have unable to decode the prophecies properly, but only now God has granted special insight to a select few, including himself, to warn God’s people… Really? He argues that only now has God “unsealed” the secrets in the book of Revelation and prophetic scriptures. This betrays a serious lack of knowledge of the book in which he claims to be an authority. The book of Revelation was never sealed, it was written to the first century Christians as well as for us today:

And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.(Re 22:10)

But Patrick believes he has been granted special insight and cites,

Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7).

Astonishingly, he actually appears to be implying that he qualifies as such a prophet in this video at :57. I wanted to let it pass, but it seems he really means it because he cites it again at 17:30. Are we really supposed to believe that God will not do anything without letting Patrick Heron, the endtime prophet, know first? Seriously? He certainly implies as much by repeatedly citing it. But citing this verse from Amos is a major abuse of scripture. Amos was a shepherd and farmer called to prophesy during the reigns of Uzziah (792–740 BC) in the southern kingdom and Jeroboam II (793–753 BC) in the north. Amos was not giving his opinions on the interpretation of scripture; rather he spoke the very words of God directly. The Old Testament prophets were not just prognosticators rather they were spokespersons for God and covenant enforcers. This context no longer exists as we are under a new covenant and Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man. To apply Amos 3:7 to a modern context and especially to yourself is an egregious error and extraordinarily arrogant.

His approach is very condescending as he labels the rendering in all English translations since the 16th century as a “deception.” Yes, even the authorized KJV as well as all modern translations are demonic deceptions according to Heron! The verse in question is:

“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 Th 2:3, KJV)

“Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,(2 Th 2:3, ESV)

He desperately wants to believe that apostasia means a “departure” in the sense of the “rapture” the church being gathered bodily directly preceding the Great Tribulation and the coming of the antichrist. The following observations point to the implausibility of this identification.

  • The word apostasia in the Greek Old and New Testaments always refers to a “departure from faith” and never to a “catching away”, “bodily resurrection” or “gathering.”
  • A negatively religious nuance of “departure” is also dictated by the context, since in 2 Thes 2:3 it is conjoined with the man of lawlessness, and in 2 Thes 2:8–12 deception and departing from the faith also appear in conjunction with “the lawless one.”
  • The “gathering” of 2:1 is an allusion to Paul’s earlier teaching on the rapture of God’s people (1 Thess 4:14–17; cf. 1 Cor 15:52). Thus, Paul’s message to the Thessalonians was that they should not be misled because a sure sign of Christ’s return, the apostasy, has not yet taken place. This was Paul’s way of comforting them and reassuring them that they had not missed the Lord’s return. Patrick’s reading misses Paul’s point. We should expect to see a massive apostasy and the rise of Antichrist before the rapture.
  • The coming of Christ can still be imminent like “a thief in the night.” We should allow the possibility that the two signs will take place so quickly that by the time we recognize them as such, Christ’s lightning-like coming will have been set in motion (see Mt 24:27). Even so, Paul says it should not surprise us if we are alert (1 Thes 5:4). But this can be difficult because we live in the “already/not yet” period. Accordingly, the fulfillment of the prophesied apostasy and lawless one’s coming has been inaugurated and has occurred cyclically throughout history. John wrote back in the first century, “Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour” (1 Jn 2:18).  The last hour has been going on for 2,000 years! This explains why throughout the church’s existence many have erroneously claimed that the end has arrived. The claim is understandable, but the error lies in the inability to discern when precisely the apostasy has reached its absolute zenith and when one individual sufficiently incarnates lawlessness to the degree Paul has in mind in 2 Thes 2:4. Because of this no one can responsibly claim with absolute certainty, as Patrick does, that the end times are underway until these two signs have demonstrably occurred.

At 5:45 in the video, Patrick states that, “the answer to error is right doctrine.” This is of course true but right doctrine is derived from a sound hermeneutic which he has already abandoned at the outset with the unsealing of an open book and a gross misapplication of Amos 3:7. Of course, Patrick’s real purpose here is to promote his book and prop up the pretribulation rapture position. The word in question is apostasia. According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament:


A later construction for ἀπόστασις. The word presupposes the concept ἀποστάτης “to be an apostate,” and thus signifies the state of apostasy, whereas ἀπόστασις denotes the act. Politically an ἀποστάτης is a “rebel” (Polyb., V, 41, 6; 57, 4: τοῦ βασιλέως; Diod. S., XV, 18: τῆς πατρίδος), and this sense is retained in ἀποστασία (Plut. Galb., 1 (I, 1052e): τὴν ἀπὸ Νέρωνος ἀποστασίαν; Jos. Vit., 43: διὰ τὴν ἀποστασίαν τὴν ἀπὸ Ῥωμαίων; Ap., 1, 135 f.; Ant., 13, 219.

In the LXX it also occurs in the political sense in 1 Esr. 2:23. It is particularly employed, however, in the religious sense, Jos. 22:22; Jer. 2:19; 2 Ch. 29:19 (the apostasy of Ahaz); 33:19 (of Manasseh). Cf. 1 Macc. 2:15 (used absol.); Asc. Is. 2:4. ἀποστάτης has also retained this religious sense, cf. Is. 30:1; 2 Macc. 5:8: Jason ὡς τῶν νόμων ἀποστάτης καὶ βδελυσσόμενος; Nu. 14:9; Jos. 22:16, 19: ἀποστάτης ἀπὸ τοῦ κυρίου.[1]

At 8:00, Patrick claims that Apostasia did not mean this in the Ancient Greek language. I guess someone forgot to tell the ancient Greeks that. He then cites Bullinger’s 100 year old argument concerning the construction of the term based on its roots. Interestingly, all of the translations he cited are from the 1500s!  Remember Patricks assertion in the beginning of the video that only now in the end times have the prophecies been unsealed… isn’t it odd that all of his sources are over 100 years old? (Patrick repeatedly asserts that scripture cannot contradict itself but apparently its fine when he does). The problem with using antiquated scholarship is that knowledge of the ancient Greek language has increased exponentially due to academic linguistics and archeological discoveries. Hence, today’s scholars are much more authoritative on Greek grammar and etymology. What Patrick has engaged in here is a commonly known exegetical fallacy:

1. The root fallacy

One of the most enduring of errors, the root fallacy presupposes that every word actually has a meaning bound up with its shape or its components. In this view, meaning is determined by etymology; that is, by the root or roots of a word. [2]

He claims a better rendering is “the departure” and then claims that the same term is used 15 times in the New Testament and 12 out of the 15 it is used as a departure. Yet if we search by lemma, meaning the canonical or dictionary morphology, it really only appears twice. One being the verse in question and the other in Acts:

 κατηχήθησαν δὲ περὶ σοῦ ὅτι ἀποστασίαν διδάσκεις ἀπὸ Μωυσέως τοὺς κατὰ τὰ ἔθνη πάντας Ἰουδαίους, λέγων μὴ περιτέμνειν αὐτοὺς τὰ τέκνα μηδὲ τοῖς ἔθεσιν περιπατεῖν.

“and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs.(Ac 21:21)

Hear it clearly means a departure from the faith and a rebellion as well. The important thing is how did first century people use the word. To see how Paul would have understood and used it the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, is  a great source, the term appears four times:

22 Ὁ θεὸς θεός ἐστιν κύριος, καὶ ὁ θεὸς θεὸς κύριος αὐτὸς οἶδεν, καὶ Ισραηλ αὐτὸς γνώσεται, εἰ ἐν ἀποστασίᾳ ἐπλημμελήσαμεν ἔναντι τοῦ κυρίου, μὴ ῥύσαιτο ἡμᾶς ἐν ταύτῃ, [3]

“The Mighty One, God, the Lord! The Mighty One, God, the Lord! He knows; and let Israel itself know! If it was in rebellion or in breach of faith against the Lord, do not spare us today.” (Jos 22:22)

(I will not bother to show the LXX for the rest, but I could…)

“All the utensils that King Ahaz repudiated during his reign when he was faithless, we have made ready and sanctified; see, they are in front of the altar of the Lord.”(2 Ch 29:19)

“The king’s officers who were enforcing the apostasy came to the town of Modein to make them offer sacrifice.”(1 Mac 2:15)

“Your wickedness will punish you, and your apostasies will convict you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God; the fear of me is not in you, says the Lord God of hosts.”(Je 2:19)

So Patrick is just wrong about the common usage of the word. He is engaging in another common fallacy known as “special pleading.” He is allowing his preference for the pretribulation rapture position to cloud his exegesis. I confronted him about his qualifications to dispute the unanimous (since the 16th century anyway) English rendering of the Greek in an email and he cited his Masters degree and Doctorate in Christian Literature. According to Wikipedia:

Heron holds a B.Sc. and M.A. in Business Studies from Trinity College, Dublin. He also holds a Degree in Theology and recently received an Honorary Doctorate in Christian Literature from the California Pacific School of Theology, Glendale, California, as a result of the research done in his book, The Nephilim and the Pyramid of the Apocalypse.[4]

His academic training is in business. So, in reality, he has no Greek exegesis credentials whatsoever and even his gifted doctorate is from an unaccredited institution. I would not have brought this into it, except that he brought it up as way to give himself some credibility. In truth, it does not appear that he put in the hard work to learn Greek that even a seminary trained youth pastor has. Patrick is clearly wrong in his interpretation but that does not mean that any rapture position is necessarily falsified. However, it does seem very clear that the church will see the apostasy and rise of Antichrist. This apostasy will take place within the professing church and will be a departure from the truth that God has revealed in His Word. While it is true that apostasy has characterized the church almost from its inception, Paul referred to a specific distinguishable apostasy that will come in the future (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; 4:3-4; James 5:1-8; 2 Peter 2; 3:3-6; Jude). Do not listen to Heron for your comfort, be prepared, listen to Paul:

Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction.(2 Th 2:3)

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,(1 Ti 4:1)

But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Th 5:4–9)

And listen to Jesus:

Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come (Mt 24:10–14)

For a more responsible handling of the rapture issue I commend the work of Chris White to you:



For an excellent scholarly treatment of the subject see:

For an editorial see:

[1] , vol. 1, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-), 513.

[2]D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, 2nd ed. (Carlisle, U.K.; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Paternoster; Baker Books, 1996), 28.

[3] Septuaginta : With Morphology, electronic ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1979), Jos 22:22.