Definition of Apostasy

My attempt at a short description of the term “apostasy.” Corrections and suggested additions are most welcome.

APOSTASY – The abandonment or forsaking of faith or commitment to follow the Lord, often described as a turning away (Jer 8:5 NASB, NET) or falling away (Heb 6:6 NET). Apostasy results in punishment (Jer 2:19 ESV), hence the many warnings against it (2 Thes 2:3; 1 Tim 4:1f; 2 Pet 3:17; Jude 1). Apostates include Hymanaeus and Alexander (1 Tim 1:19-20), Demas (2 Tim 4:10) and Phygelus and Hermogenes (2 Tim 1:15). By Jesus’ word one may avoid falling away (John 16:1). The word is a transliteration of the Greek term, apostasia.

These are not my choice of abbreviations for Bible books, but I use them to preserve the reference links. For the same reason I reference Jude 1, although it actually has no chapters. NET linking isn’t functioning; I probably need to update. But pay attention to the content, not the format, please, unless the latter harms the former.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

3 thoughts on “Definition of Apostasy

  1. Thanks for a very helpful and deeper understanding on the word apostasia. I appreciate that you have defined it as a willful choice–an abandonment or forsaking.

    Apostasy in practice often arises out of blindness. The willfully blind may lead the deceived blind into the pit (Mt. 15:14). What many call mistaken is actually misled or deceived. The phrase “Do not be deceived” occurs in several contexts to describe those who are led into error by deception. Mounce in his Expository Dictionary notes that apostasia also describes rebellion (Acts 21:21; 2 Th 2:3). It is a defection from the truth. One can see why they defected, since they did not have a love for the truth (2 Th. 2:10).

    The Pharisees were blindly misled and did not know it. One can be rebellious toward God in blindness. One can be displeasing to God and not know it.


  2. Apostasy is broader than just religious. It could be abandonment of what has been believed and followed, such as abandoning one’s faith, cause or principles. It comes from the Greek apo (away) and stasis (standing); in other words, no longer in good standing in one’s society because an individual or group has walked away from it.

What do you think?