also discussed: Antichrist and Perdition
Apostasy comes from the Greek word apostasia. It means to desert, and carries with it the thought of trying to convince others to desert. It derives from the Greek aphistemi, meaning away from an established position.
Even before mankind was on earth, Lucifer rebelled against Heavenly Father's plan for our mortal experience and convinced a third of the spirits then in heaven to join him. He gained the appellation in Greek of Apollyon, which means Destruction, sometimes translated as Perdition. True apostates are also referred to as Sons of Perdition.
After his expulsion from the Garden, Adam was given the Gospel and ordinances of salvation, looking forward to the ministry and atonement of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Cain, his first-named son, was the first mortal apostate. Disatisfied with the way of the Gospel, and jealous of his brother Abel's favor with God, he killed his brother and fled into the wilderness.
Judas Iscariot was an apostate. He was taught the Gospel with the rest of the Twelve and was given every opportunity, yet he went with his own plans and betrayed Christ for money, perhaps hoping to manipulate Christ into declaring Himself king.
"Be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away [GR: apostasy] first, and that man of sin [GR: lawlessness] be revealed, the son of perdition [GR: destruction]." (2 Thessalonians 2:2-3)
The Antichrist will be an apostate. He will know Christ and will have turned away from Him, as have all antichrists throughout history. The Great Antichrist is Satan himself.
"Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." (1 John 2:18-19) The coming of the Antichrist was taught in the Early Church but never formally expressed in those words until John wrote his "first" epistle.
"Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son." (1 John 2:22) A man is not a liar unless he knows he is lying.
"Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." (1 John 4:2-3) That spirit was in the world in John's day, and it is here today, and getting busier.
Heber C. Kimball as counselor to President Brigham Young said, "I will give you a key which Brother Joseph Smith used to give in Nauvoo. He said that the very step of apostasy commenced with losing confidence in the leaders of this church and kingdom, and that whenever you discerned that spirit you might know that it would lead the possessor of it on the road to apostasy." Lucifer had no confidence in Heavenly Father's plan, Judas had no confidence that the Savior knew what He was doing.
Daniel Tyler recalled: “Soon after the Prophet’s [Joseph Smith Jr.] arrival in Commerce (afterwards Nauvoo) from Missouri prison, Brother Isaac Behunin and myself made him a visit at his residence. His persecutions were the topic of conversation. He repeated many false, inconsistent and contradictory statements made by apostates, frightened members of the Church and outsiders. He also told how most of the officials who would fain have taken his life, when he was arrested, turned in his favor on forming his acquaintance. He laid the burden of the blame on false brethren ...
“When the Prophet had ended telling how he had been treated, Brother Behunin remarked: ‘If I should leave this Church I would not do as those men have done: I would go to some remote place where Mormonism had never been heard of, settle down, and no one would ever learn that I knew anything about it.’
“The great Seer immediately replied: ‘Brother Behunin, you don’t know what you would do. No doubt these men once thought as you do. Before you joined this Church you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached, good and evil were set before you. You could choose either or neither. There were two opposite masters inviting you to serve them. When you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve, it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant.’ ” - Daniel Tyler, in “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Juvenile Instructor, Aug. 15, 1892, pp. 491–92;
- David Sawyer, February 9, 2009