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Q285 : "Day of Christ" or "Day of the Lord" in 2 Thessalonians?

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Q285 : "Day of Christ" or "Day of the Lord" in 2 Thessalonians?

Hi Pastor Tony,

I visited the SpiritAndTruth.org website to read your answer to a question on the interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3. I notice that you use “Day of Christ” and “Day of the Lord” interchangeably as though these two phrases mean the same thing. The KJV's rendering of 2 Thessalonians 2:2 is “day of Christ” , but other translations use “day of the Lord.” I do not think these two phrases mean the same thing. They have different meanings.

The phrase “day of the Lord” refers to a time of judgment of unbelievers and it includes the great tribulation as well as other events, as you rightly noted in your answer. However, the phrase “day of Christ” refers to the rapture of the Church which takes place prior to the revelation of the antichrist and prior to the great tribulation.

If you look at other New Testament passages (e.g. Philippians 1:6, Phil. 1:10, Phil. 2:16, 1 Cor. 1:8, etc.) where the phrase “day of Christ” is used by Paul, you will see that this phrase is always a reference to the rapture of believers rather than a reference to the judgment of unbelievers.

So, the two phrases are not the same. This is perhaps the reason that some Bible commentators say that the KJV translation of 2 Thess. 2:2 is an error. They argue that the correct translation of this verse should be “day of the Lord” rather than “day of Christ” . I don't know for sure whether the KJV rendering of this verse is an error or not. But what I do think is that the way the KJV renders this verse gives it a meaning that is different from the meaning conveyed by other Bible translations that use “day of the Lord.” This probably explains why the posttribulational rapture teachers prefer the KJV translation of this verse because it appears to suggest that the day of Christ (the rapture) will not take place until after the antichrist has been revealed. The KJV rendering of this verse is one of the main scriptures used by post-tribulational rapture teachers to support their teaching.

Personally, I don't know which of the two phrases (“day of Christ” and “day of the Lord”) is the correct phrase that Paul used in 2 Thess. 2:2. I find it strange to even think of the possibility of the KJV containing an error. At the same time, I am unable to harmonize the King James Version's rendering of this verse with a pre-tribulational rapture. I believe in a pre-tribulation rapture but I can't reconcile 2 Thessalonians 2:2 with a pre-tribulational rapture. I am still searching for an interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:2 that fits with a pre-tribulation rapture.

I'd like to know what you think.

A285 : by Tony Garland

I'm assuming you are referring to my response to Question 262a? If you read my response carefully, I don't think I state that the phrase “Day of Christ” and “Day of the Lord” are equivalent or imply that I believe the two phrases are interchangeable.

I mention the phrase “day of Christ” twice in my response: each time I cite the KJV/NKJV rendering of the passage:

  • The closest reference in the immediate context is the day of Christ (KJV, NKJV) or day of the Lord (ESV, NASU,5 HCSB, NET) of the previous verse (2Th. 2:2).
  • The “day the Christ” (KJV, NKJV) in this passage cannot mean His arrival at the Rapture or final return in judgment as either of these events would have been obvious to the Thessalonians if it had already occurred. Whatever “that day” refers to, the Thessalonians thought it had already come (2Th. 2:2).
I merely recognize that these two translations (KJV, NKJV) utilize the phrase “day of Christ” to describe the time period which other translations (e.g., ESV, NASU, HCSB, NET) render as “day of the Lord”.

I agree with the distinction you find for all the other passages rendered as “day of Christ” — that they do not seem to have the day of the Lord in view. Based on the manuscript evidence we have, it seems they are only two possibilities:

  1. The Greek manuscript evidence behind the NKJV/KJV is in error at this passage.
  2. This passage constitutes the sole exception in the NT where the phrase, “day of Christ,” refers to events associated with the day of the Lord.
My own view tends toward #1—that this is a passage where the manuscript evidence for the critical text (footnoted as “NU textb” within the NKJV)1 seems to be the preferred reading.

Although I myself prefer the Majority Text over the Critical Text (which is one reason I favor the NKJV as my primary English translation), I do not consider the text of either the KJV or NKJV to be inspired and inerrantc. It is the doctrinal positiond of SpiritAndTruth.org that only the autographs are inerrant.

I hope that helps clarify my views in regard to the phrase “day of Christ” found in the KJV/NKJV rendering of this passage.

Blessings!


Endnotes:

1.Nestle Aland/United Bible Society


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