Does apostasy show the end is coming? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Verse 10 seems pretty generic.
“And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.”
Okay. That sounds common. Hasn’t that been going on for awhile? Yes it has, and yet what we have to ask is if this was going on in the first century or not? The answer is definitely yes.
If we read the epistles, Paul talks about Demas in 2 Timothy 4:10 who loved the world and went back to it. The book of Hebrews regularly encourages people to stay true to the faith and to not apostasize. There was plenty of incentive to do so!
The book is arguing that Jesus is superior to the Jewish system of redemption with their four great figures of righteousness, namely angels, Moses, the high priest, and Melchizedek, at least in the area of Alexandria. It was tempting for Christians to return to this system. Why? The writer says there blood had not yet been shed.
It was tempting because of social ostracism. If you think that is not a compelling factor, then just consider peer-pressure today and up it greatly. After all, how many of us have done something we look back on and think is foolish but we did it because at the time, we didn’t want to be frowned upon by the peers we were wanting to impress? So it would have been with Christians in the first century.
The book of Revelation warns of those who have fallen from their first love in the church of Ephesus. I realize that not everyone dates this to before 70 A.D. like I do, but we can still see that at least in the first century this was a problem. Can we see the other options as well?
Yes. Hating one another has always been common. There was a period around the time of 70 AD where you had a cycle of Roman emperors as one would get assassinated after another. In Acts, Christians were regularly being persecuted by the Jewish people they were trying to witness to. Even in the Sermon on the Mount, we see that Jews were taught to love their neighbors and hate their enemies.
Remember, I am not claiming this behavior was only going on in the first century. It’s quite easy to see this happening everywhere. I am just aiming to show that it does fit within the first century. Later, we will get to more specific statements.