“1Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the FALLING AWAY comes FIRST, and the man of sin is REVEALED, the son of perdition, 4who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. ” (2 Thess. 2:1-4 -Apostle Paul AD 52).
The FALLING AWAY or “apostasy” of many of the followers of Christ occurred as the persecutions by the Jews increased in intensity leading up to AD 64, and then added in the Romans persecution and the GREAT TRIBULATION on the church in AD 66 through to the Parousia in the Spring of AD 66, so that many could not or would not endure. All believers in the first century leading up to the day of Christ’s return had to suffer such persecutions.
“12Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus WILL SUFFER PERSECUTION.” (2 Tim. 3:12).
Jesus told His disciples in AD 30 about some of the signs of His second coming (Parousia), resulting in the end of the Jewish age. He said that even among themselves there would be betrayal and hatred of one another.
“10And then many will be offended, will BETRAY one another, and will HATE one another.”(Matt. 24:10).
Paul’s last letter before his death was written to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:6-7). He said that “ALL WHO DESIRE TO LIVE GODLY IN CHRIST JESUS WILL SUFFER PERSECUTION.” (2 Tim. 3:12).
This FALLING AWAY would occur prior to the Parousia of Christ in AD 66-70. It would be especially evident as the Neronic persecutions became more and more extreme between AD 63-66. It would be during the period just before the Jewish revolt officially began the Spring of AD 66.
Paul told Timothy in late-AD 63 that the time would soon come when many would not endure sound doctrine, but would FALL AWAY to follow the Judaizers and other false teachings (2 Tim. 4:3-4; 4:10). The FALLING AWAY was already in progress in the first century when the last books of the New Testament were being written to such an extent that Paul declared in 2 Timothy 4:16 that all had forsook him and that only Luke was with him (2 Tim. 4:10-16).
The issue of FALLING AWAY did not involve genuine believers in Christ, who remained faithful until the Parousia. The FALLING AWAY would happen to those who had heard the gospel, but the seed had fallen on “stony places,” or “among the thorns,” and when great trials and difficulties came upon them they turned away and gave up on the only way of salvation through faith in Christ (Matt. 13:18-23). It also does not apply to born-again Christians who live after AD 70. We have the Holy Spirit permanently indwelling us. All faithful believers are securely in Christ by faith.
Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 7 Lesson 1 Matt. 24:1-14”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 7 Lesson 6 Matt. 24:45-51”]