Dr. Couch, what is the difference from the Greek between apostasy, error, and heresy?
ANSWER: This is a good question. Sometimes we just lump these ideas together, but as you, I like to be specific because that is usually what happens in Scripture. And we want to be a good observer of what the Holy Spirit has given to us and said in the Word of God.
APOSTASY. Unfortunately, the KVJ does not translate the word apostasia as apostasy but as a falling away. This is close. The word is a compound, apo=from, and stasia=to stand. Thus, to stand away from. A standing away from something, specifically in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, is "a falling away" from the truth. The word apostasion is related and means "to divorce." The NAS translates the Greek word as "apostasy." This "departure, falling away" comes just before the revelation of the anti-Christ, the man of sin, who is revealed at the beginning of the tribulation.
This apostasy is further described in 2 Timothy 3:1: "But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come." As well, men will be "holding to a form of godliness, although they will have denied its power " (v. 5). They will be "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (v. 7). This apostasy is further described in 1 Timothy 4:1-3. "The Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will fall away from THE FAITH, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons" (v. 1). Further, they will be hypocritical liars "seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron" (v. 2).
I believe we are now starting into this terrible period just before the arrival of the rapture of the church.
ERROR. In a technical sense the word error (agnoeema) ("to not know") is used only once in the NT in Hebrews 9:7. There it is speaking of the sinful errors of the Jews that were committed in a certain blind manner. A sacrifice had to be made for those sins of ignorance. A similar idea is given in a related word (agnoia) which is almost always translated as ignorance. There are sins of ignorance, nevertheless, they are sins and must be accounted for.
HERESY. This word (hairesis) may carry the strongest idea. It is sometimes translated "sect." An interesting use is found in 1 Corinthians 11:19 where the apostle Paul writes "There must be heresies among you." He could simply mean there "will be" or God puts heresies in your midst in order to strengthen your resolve and your doctrinal understanding. Heresies are part of the work of the flesh (Gal. 5:20), and "false teachers" (heretics) shall arise in the end times (2 Pet. 2:1).
While each word has a different shade of meaning, the point is almost the same. False doctrine will dominate, and especially it will come to the forefront in the final days!
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch
Dr. Mal Couch