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drifting awayTo Drift Away


Apostasy (a-POS’-te-see) means an abandonment of what one has professed; a total desertion, or departure from one's faith. It’s a turning away or drifting away from the truth.

Can a true believer become an apostate?

The New Testament lists at least twelve (12) critical Greek words describing what apostasy means:

1] parapito – to fall aside, that is, (figuratively) to apostatize: - fall away.
2] aphistemi - to desist, desert, etc.: - depart, draw (fall) away, refrain, withdraw self.
3] pararrhueo - to flow by, that is, (figuratively) carelessly pass (miss): - let slip.
4] apostrepho - to turn away or back (lit. or fig.): - bring again, pervert, turn away (from).
5] ektrepo – to deflect, that is, turn away (lit. or fig.): - avoid, turn (aside, out of the way).
6] astocheo - to miss the mark, that is, (figuratively) deviate from truth: - err, swerve.

7] skandalizo - to "scandalize"; from the word ‘skandalon’, which means to entrap, that is, trip up (figuratively stumble [transitively] or entice to sin, apostasy or displeasure): - (make to) offend.
8] kataleipo - to leave down, that is, behind; by implication to abandon, have remaining: - forsake, leave, reserve.

9] arneomai - to contradict, that is, disavow, reject, abnegate: - deny, refuse.
10] ameleo - to be careless of: - make light of, neglect, be negligent, not regard.
11] apotheomai, apothomai - (to shove); to push off, (fig.) to reject: - cast away, put away (from), thrust way (from)

12] planao - to (properly cause to) roam (from safety, truth, or virtue): - go astray, deceive, err, seduce, wander, be out of the way.

Based on the above meaning in Greek, let’s understand how the Scriptures apply these words and when/how apostasy happens. The words in the epistle to the Hebrews provided a good example: 

“For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away (‘parapito’), it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)

“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away (‘aphistemi’) from the living God.” (Hebrews 3:12)

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away (‘pararrhueo’) from it.” (Hebrews 2:1). It is possible to drift or slip away from the Lord like a boat gradually drifts from shore, when our life is not anchored on the truth.

“See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away (‘apostrepho’) from Him who warns from heaven.” (Hebrews 12:25)

“How will we escape if we neglect(‘ameleo’) so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard.” (Hebrews 2:3).

Some say that once you are a Christian, you can no longer fall away. But, as the above forewarnings indicated, it is indeed possible to ‘apostatize’.  This happens once we neglect our calling, deny the faith, turn way from the truth, and let our life drift away to eventually loss the salvation that once we received from God through His Son, Jesus the Christ.


“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away (‘aphistemi’) from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.” - 1 Timothy 4:1-3

“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away (Gk.pararrhueo).” - Hebrews 2:1

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