Exposing the "Secret Rapture" Theory
[A Scriptural Refutation]
["That there should be no schism in the Body"]
By: L. Ray Smith
The return of our Creator, Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to this Earth in supernal power, glory, and majesty, to vivify and transform mere mortals into the very sons of God, has got to be among the greatest events in the history of the universe! How much of its inspiration and splendor is sacrificed to theories that would have this grand event occur in stages, or in secrecy, or worse yet, on a gloomy night? I hope and pray that the revealed truth regarding Christ's one and only second coming will lift and inspire all who meditate on its grandeur.
RAPTURE DOCTRINE CAUSES DIVISION
I believe there is more at stake with regards to the teaching of the rapture than a mere difference of opinion on a theological doctrine. Even among those who accept and believe in the reconciliation, justification, glorification, and salvation of all, it is a divisive doctrine.
Paul instructs us:
This also includes,
We will see that the rapture theory is in direct conflict with these Scriptures.
Not only is there a line drawn between the Jewish (circumcision) saints and the Gentile (uncircumcision) saints, but now it has even caused a division between individual members of the uncircumcision saints. Do the Scriptures actually teach two separate second comings of our Lord to vivify His saints, or is the rapture an unwarranted deduction based on human reasoning?
It IS possible to know, one way or the other. This is not a hazy topic in the Scriptures. You will be amazed just how easy it is to understand God's Word regarding Christ's return to His saints--ALL OF HIS SAINTS.
The mere idea of two separate and distinct comings might not be harmful in itself. However, when we examine many of the reasons given for why there should be separate resurrections at two separate comings of our Lord, then I believe the harm becomes more apparent. And the teaching that the uncircumcision resurrection, under Paul's administration, is far superior to that of Israel's is not substantiated by Scripture. Peter and Israel are then relegated to an inferior calling, expectation, etc. The Scriptures do not teach such a theory.
It is inferred that the saints of Israel will not only have to go through the great tribulation, but possibly God's indignation as well, while the saints of the Gentiles are supposedly raptured away long before these horrors manifest themselves on the earth. Do the Scriptures really support the idea that compared to the Gentile saints, Israel has been given an inferior calling, an inferior expectation, an inferior resurrection with inferior bodies, and a position of inferior rulership with Christ on an inferior terrestrial setting?
It makes me sad to see sincere believers buy into a divisive theory of "who's the greatest." Peter was a spiritual giant, just as Paul. There was mutual love and respect for each other, not competition, as they worked together sharing knowledge for the benefit of the saints in their care. Later we will look at some remarkable but often overlooked verses in Peter's epistles that directly correlate with Paul's epistles.
A few personal thoughts before I really get into this subject. Through the years God has revealed a bit of wisdom to me, and it goes something like this: If something is false (actually, factually, and literally false), then all honest scholarship and study done on that particular subject will only further verify its falsehood. If, however, something really is true (actually, factually, and literally true), then all honest scholarship and study done on that particular subject will, likewise, only further verify its truthfulness.
No amount of research will eventually prove that evolution is the explanation of our existence on this Earth. That's because the theory is false! And this principle, I believe, applies to the study of any subject. So we have nothing to fear.
I remember well the teaching of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong on the subject of the final destiny of those thrown into the lake of fire. His study went something like this: "All have sinned (scripture, scripture, scripture), but Christ came to die for sinners (scripture, scripture), but those who reject Christ's sacrifice will be thrown into the lake of fire (scripture), from which there will be no salvation [NO scripture!]" I learned a lot from that study.
In this study I, therefore, promise to give Scriptural references to back up any bold statements or assertions. I will be quoting from The Concordant Literal New Testament for most Scriptural references.
HOW THIS STUDY GOT STARTED
Ten years ago a friend probed me about my views on the secret rapture. I outlined in a letter to him what I believe the Scriptures teach regarding this long-debated topic. For this letter, I was virtually disfellowshipped and anathematized. He wrote a stinging letter to a Bible publisher condemning my supposed heresy. Unfortunately, I have never heard from this man again. I learned that not all brethren take kindly to those who oppose their views.
Recently more and more truth seekers have requested information regarding the rapture. I didn't realize how much interest there is in this subject. At the further coaxing of my good friend, Gordon Wallis of Pensacola, this paper is presented. It is somewhat enlarged from my notes of ten years ago.
WHAT IS THE RAPTURE?
Rapturists believe that I Thes. 4:13-18 describes a resurrection which includes both the living and the dead uncircumcision saints only, long before the saints of Israel are resurrected at Christ's second coming. That there will be such a resurrection as outlined in I Thes. 4:13-18, there is no debate among believers. The debate that has raged in religious circles for over a century has to do with the "who and when" of its prophetic fulfillment. Here are the two scenarios:
One camp teaches that the rapture will occur before the Great Tribulation and; therefore, are known as pre-tribulationists. A second camp teaches that the rapture occurs in the middle of the seven-year week of Daniel are known as mid-tribulationists. And a third camp teaches that the rapture occurs at the end of the Great Tribulation. They are known as post-tribulationists.
Sometimes we hear just the term "rapture," and other times we hear of the "secret rapture."
The word "rapture" is not found in the Bible. Rapture is said to be taken from the Latin word rapio which means, to seize, to take by force, and is supposedly the root of the English word, "rape." The Greek word, harpazo, is translated "caught up" in the Authorized Version and "snatched away" in the Concordant Version. As "rapture" is in popular usage with reference to "caught up" and "snatched away" in I Thes. 4, we will continue to use the word in this paper.
We will consider the main arguments used in favor of the rapture theory by those who use accurate translations and have a good understanding of other Scriptural truths, such as the sovereignty of God and the salvation of all. I will avoid answering all of the Christian Fundamentalist views of the rapture as their arguments in favor of a rapture add very little.
ARGUMENTS FOR THE RAPTURE FOLLOWED BY SCRIPTURAL REBUTTALS
I want to first quote from a study tape entitled, The presence of Christ in I Thes. 4:13-18:
I would respectfully take exception to the statement that those who oppose the rapture teaching, "are certainly prejudicial" as this expositor contends. The next statement really puzzles me: "I realize that the opposing views [those who do not believe in the rapture], must appear to many to be substantial, and that we can EASILY be made to appear MORE THAN MISTAKEN, and merely be presenting our own unwarranted imaginings." (Emphasis mine). Hopefully, we don't believe in too many things that, "... can easily be made to appear more than mistaken ..."
Let it be abundantly clear that as I go through the material and research of other expositors on this subject of the rapture, and comment on their statements and views, that it is only their teaching that I am taking exception to, and certainly not the sincere and fine people who are presenting their views.
We will start our study by going through an article published by The Foundation for Biblical Research in 1976 entitled, IN DEFENSE OF THE "RAPTURE." The publication of this article by The Foundation for Biblical Research is no indication that the Foundation believes in the rapture. They just wanted to present both views. Along with this article, I will comment on statements made in defense of the rapture from the tape already mentioned: The Presence of Christ in I Thess. 4:13-18, and a 78 page booklet entitled, Consolation in Expectation.
THE RAPTURE PREMISE
The main premise of the rapture theory has to do with whether I Thes. 4:13-18 is an earlier and separate resurrection (rapture or snatching away) than the resurrection mentioned in Matt. 24 and also the book of Revelation. In fairness to the author, I will address every argument used in this article. We now present the arguments from the articles and the tape in dark blue and bold print:
ANSWER: Do "the differences make the difference?" That is, if the events described in one account are different from the events described in another account, does that necessarily prove that we are being presented with two totally different occurrences which will happen at two different times? This is probably the biggest argument that teachers of the rapture theory use to defend their teaching. "The differences make the difference." This statement might sound reasonable on the surface, but is it absolutely true?
We could also say, "It is the similarities that make them the same." In archaeology, similarity in pottery design would tend to prove the same culture as other similar pottery. In reality, neither statement conclusively proves anything.
The real answer is that more information is needed to make such a determination than what is presented in these statements.
Let us be careful that we are not thrown by the word "different." Many times in Scriptural accounts of something, we are presented with "additional" information, or "more" information, and not "different contradictory" information.
The Scriptures do not contradict. One account might leave out a piece of information, while another account might add a piece of information, yet they do not contradict. I hope to make this abundantly clear in the following pages.
Let me present a number of "different" examples to broaden our understanding of this restricted statement which allows for only one supposed conclusion.
We all remember the story of the three blind men from India who were allowed to touch three different parts of an elephant. All three blind men gave totally different reports on what they felt and what they thought this animal was like. Now, did the differences that all three men reported, really prove that they were touching three entirely different animals and not just one single ELEPHANT? This is not difficult to understand.
Surely we can see and understand this from the four gospels. Many events are presented "differently," from Matthew to Mark to Luke to John, but if they don't contradict, they can still be the same event. Here are some examples of different facts that do not represent different events.
DIFFERENT DETAILS--SAME EVENT
Concerning Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus, we read in Acts 9 :7, "Now the men who are journeying with him stood dumbfounded, hearing, indeed, the sound, yet beholding no one."
But we read in Acts 22:9,
In the first account Paul's companions: Hear but don't See
In the second account Paul's companions: See but don't Hear
If we adopt the same logic used by rapturists, that things that differ in details must be different events, then we must conclude that Saul [Paul] was converted twice on two different trips to Damascus!
Suppose I am planning a birthday party for my daughter, Viviane. Suppose also that we have sent out invitations outlining the time, place, and certain activities such as swimming and games. Now let's suppose one more time that as my daughter's birthday party approaches, I call her aside and privately inform her of the following secret information: "Viviane, behold I show you a secret [I don't actually talk to my daughter like this]. We shall not all swim and play games only, but I am hiring a clown who will do magic tricks, and also a pony for all the children to ride."
Now the invitations said nothing with regard to a "clown" or "a pony," did they? Does, however, this added, updated, secret information about the clown and pony somehow change the time, place, and even who's birthday (Viviane's) is being celebrated? No, of course not. Neither does one scriptural account which presents "added" or "missing" details not presented in a second account, automatically change them into two different events at two different times.
Let's look at a major event in the four Gospels, the crucifixion of our Lord. I will point out just a few seemingly different or even contradictory statements from the four Gospels in the same way rapturists point out differences in accounts of our Lord's second coming. Here then are a few differences in the accounts:
Clearly from the reasoning point of view of a rapturist, here are presented four different events. All signs are "different," and remember we are told that, "Not withstanding the similarities ... it is the differences that make the difference." Were there two or more different crucifixions? Were their two or more different Saviors?
There are many more differences in the accounts of our Lord's crucifixion than there are differences in the accounts of His second coming. Why then does no one believe or teach that there were two or more crucifixions of our Lord, yet millions believe He will return a second time, TWICE?
I have pointed out only a few of the details dealing with the crucifixion of our Lord that are presented somewhat differently, details that are excluded in some accounts and included in others. And, need I even say it? We are not dealing with four different crucifixions of our Lord, or four different Lords, for that matter.
Interestingly, the very same Scripture that tells us that Christ was offered up (crucified) only once, also tells us how many times our Lord will return for those awaiting Him for salvation:
For years I used to watch a long series of documentaries on TV called, The Twentieth Century, hosted by Walter Cronkite. One week the program would center on the war in the Pacific, with battleships and island combat. Another week the program centered on bombing raids over the British Isles. Another week they would cover the beach landing in Normandy. Another program might cover tank battles in the northern deserts of Africa. Still another might cover the horrible starvation and fighting during Russia's infamous winters.
I am sure that all would agree that despite numerous similarities in these weekly episodes, there was, however, a plethora of differences. Trench fighting in Europe, bombs over Britain, battle ships in the Pacific and tank battles in the African deserts are about as different and as far removed from each other as anything can be. The question is: Do all these "differences " prove that all these episodes were covering five different wars during five different periods of history?
Absolutely not! All these episodes where covering the same war, during the same time in history, and many of these events were occurring simultaneously. All of this was World War II.
When making a statement like, "But it is the differences which make the difference," to argue in favor of two distinct events, it must be proved that there are "contradictions" and not merely "differences." On the nightly news, for example, we constantly view "different" accounts of the SAME EVENT by the separate news networks. I believe the above expositor would make his point clearer by stating: "But it is the CONTRADICTIONS that make the difference." Most of us can easily agree with that statement.
One more simple example before we go on. Some people know me by "Ray Smith." Others know me by "Larry R. Smith" or "Larry Smith." Still others (including the I.R.S.) know me by "Larry Ray Smith." In writing I use "L. Ray Smith." But I assure you, I am not five different people, nor will I come up in five different resurrections!
ANSWER: Let's be sure we are clear on our phrases. "New revelation" can easily be understood to mean new information, or more information. It does not denote a new event. There is absolutely nothing in the meaning of the word "secret" that denotes a new and different event. Note very carefully what the Apostle Paul did not say in I Cor. 15. Paul did not say: "Lo! A secret to you am I telling! There is coming a resurrection of the dead." The fact of the resurrection was no secret (Jn 11:24, Acts 23:8).
The primary topic of I Cor. 15 is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and what it portends for believers. The "resurrection" of which Paul speaks is not the secret. I have a book entitled, God's Rules of Scripture Interpretation. The author spends pages and pages berating Christian theologians (and rightly so) for using dozens and dozens of unscriptural man-made slogans and phrases--he lists 75 of them. But he then contradicts his own teaching on page 157, by saying, "Our resurrection is found only in Paul's epistles and twice we are told it is a secret resurrection."
"Secret resurrection" is a man-made slogan that is nowhere found in the Scriptures. Nowhere is this resurrection of the saints called a "secret resurrection."
RESURRECTION WAS NEVER A SECRET
So what was the "secret" that Paul wants us to now know? The secret is new information regarding the resurrection that was not known or ever taught before. I Cor. 15:51-53 lists the following new information with reference to an old subject:
The resurrection of Christ that Paul spoke of was the same resurrection of Christ of which Peter spoke (Acts 2:31). Here are two major proofs to the Corinthians that Christ was raised from the dead:
Peter and Paul, circumcision and uncircumcision, witnesses to the same Christ and the same resurrection. Paul further states,
Who is the "our" he is speaking of? The other eye witnesses--Peter and the Twelve (Ver.5). As they were both heralding the same resurrected Christ, they were also heralding the same hope in the same resurrection that will save us all.
Now the clincher. Who were these "who are put to repose in Christ"? Were they only those of Paul's ministry? Those of the uncircumcision? Gentile believers only? Friends and relatives of these Corinthians only? Or does "who are put to repose in Christ" also include members of the Jewish saints in Jerusalem under Peter and the twelve? Some of those who Paul says were put to repose were Jewish saints from Jerusalem under Peter and the Twelve. Notice:
There is no question that "... those also, who are put to repose in Christ ..." in verse 18 includes "... some were put to repose ..." of the "five hundred brethren" in verse 6 of this same chapter. It is the one resurrection of Christ that is their hope and it is the one resurrection of all the Saints, of which Paul teaches, that will be their realization of that hope.
The very first aspect of this secret is the fact that
That was never taught before. But what of those who were put to repose?
This also is part of the secret Paul is revealing. Some of those who were put to repose in verse 6 (Jewish Saints in Jerusalem), will be in this resurrection with Paul! If some of those put to repose of the 500 witnesses will be resurrected with Paul, then of necessity, all of the Jewish saints will be resurrected with Paul and all the saints (I Thes. 3:13). Hence, they are roused in one resurrection, all at the same time--at the last trump.
THE DAY OF THE LORD
ANSWER: Did they really "know all about the day of the Lord?" Apparently not. Else why does Paul have to correct them regarding the events of "the day of the Lord?" What Paul did say, was
That is all that is written concerning their knowledge of the events of this day. And well they should have known that much, seeing that it was taught many years earlier by Christ Himself (Matt. 24:43, Luke 12:39, John 10:3, Rev. 16:15). Evidence shows that the four gospel accounts were circulated before Thessalonians was written.
If the Thessalonians "knew all about the day of the Lord," they would not have had to be warned so sternly by their Apostle. Notice:
The Thessalonians did not comprehend at all the events leading up to the day of the Lord. They may have thought that they were already in the day of the Lord. So Paul informs them of the necessary prophetic events yet to be fulfilled before that day can arrive, and comforts them with:
By the time Paul wrote his second epistle to the Thessalonians, it was most apparent, that they did not "know all about the day of the Lord" and other such events. In his second epistle Paul makes it clear that the man of sin must first come and Christ will then be conquering him at His presence. And he informed the Thessalonians that their long ordeal with afflictions and persecution would come to an end when they would receive "rest" from these things "AT the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ."
ANSWER: A careful study of these verses will show that Paul has only one day in mind, the day of the Lord (which comes as a thief).
Actually, the undeniable and irrefutable proof that the mention of "the day" in verse 2 and 4 is only one day, the day of the Lord, and which does comes as a thief, is contained in the two verses themselves.
If indeed, Paul wanted us to understand these as two different days, then the phrase "that the day [a different day?--the secret rapture?] may be overtaking you as a thief" is absolutely meaningless and out of place in this context.
I am really at a loss to understand how the use of the word "day" twice in so many sentences makes them two different days. If these sentences were found in any literature other than the Bible, there would be no mistaking them to mean two different days. It is stated that the differences in the use of the word "day" twice, is easy to see: "One comes as a thief in the night, and the other does not overtake as a thief." But if these are two different days, then this comparison is totally incoherent. It would be like comparing apples with oranges.
It could be coherently argued (though not Scripturally) if the mention of "the day" twice in these two verses were presented as being two different days for the following reasons:
But they cannot use those two statements, which would prove them to be different days, because the Scriptures do not make any such comparison as the above two statements. So they are forced to concoct the following incoherent contrast:
"One day comes as a thief in the night, and the other day does not overtake as a thief."
We must not try to compare apples with oranges--not on the farm, and certainly not in the Scriptures.
The phrase "comes as a thief" but "does not overtake as a thief" must of necessity refer to the same day. It is silly to try and use these two phrases as proof of two different days. The two phrases prove just the opposite--they prove absolutely that they are the SAME day!
Can anyone believe that what Paul really meant to say, was something like this:
"... the day of the Lord is as a thief in the night--thus is it coming ... Now you brethren, are not in darkness, that the day (that is, a different day, the day on which Christ comes to resurrect you, which does not come as a thief in the night, but is a different day from the 'day of the Lord,' which as you know, does come as a thief in the night, however, even if the rapture were to come as a thief in the night) may be overtaking you as a thief in the night" Such a statement would be a little outlandish.
The sentence structure and grammar of Paul's statements are clear to understand. The phrase "of the Lord" is understood in the second mention of "the day."
Just as millions of times in literature, the second mention of something is shortened (or many times even abbreviated for brevity's sake) from all the adjectives and embellishments that the first mention of a particular thing may have. This is quite easy to understand. Look at the description of the very day we are discussing--the day that Christ returns in anger and vengeance--the "day of the Lord":
This day is described as: "the unveiling of the Lord ... from heaven ... with powerful messengers ... in flaming fire ... dealing out vengeance ... coming to be glorified ... to be marveled at in all" (II Thes. 1:7-10).
Now when Paul wants to refer back to this day, "(seeing that our testimony to you was believed)," verse 10, he does not again go through several lines of material describing the day he wants to make reference to, he merely states, " in THAT DAY" (Verse 10). "In that day" is not referring to a different day than the day of Christ's unveiling mentioned above.
And so, likewise, we have an example of that very thing in these verses:
Why complicate something so simple?
Here then is absolute Scriptural proof that the mention of "the day" in verse 2 and "the day" in verse 4, both come as a thief, and hence are the same day--the day of the Lord:
Whether the Thessalonians are in darkness or not in darkness is not the determining factor as to whether or not the second mention of the day in verse 4, comes as a thief or does not come as a thief. The element of "a thief" is already clearly stated in both verses. Let's read them:
We can't remove "the thief" from verse 4 just because its removal would help support a secret rapture theory. Why does this day not overtake the Thessalonians as a thief? Does this Scripture tell us that the reason it doesn't overtake them is because it doesn't even come as a thief in the first place? Where do these Scriptures say or even suggest such a thing?
This Scripture plainly tells us why this day doesn't overtaken the Thessalonians as a thief. The reason this day (which does come as a thief--verse 4), but does not overtake them as a thief, is because, "... you brethren are not in DARKNESS ..."
However, if the Thessalonians were in darkness, then the day of verse 4 would overtake them as a thief! It could not overtake them or anyone else if it didn't come as a thief in the first place! There it is. It is not whether or not the Thessalonians are in darkness or not that determines whether the day comes as a thief or not. No, it does come as a thief.. The point Paul is making is that it does not overtake them as a thief, and the reason it doesn't is plainly given: "... you brethren, are NOT in darkness ..."
That, dear reader, is the only reason that this day, the same day as verse 2, which also comes as a thief, does not overtake the Thessalonians --they are NOT in darkness. So therefore, this day (the day of verse 4, the so called "rapture day" of the gentile saints) , WILL overtake anyone who IS in darkness, and the reason given is that it too, like the day in verse 2, DOES COME AS A THIEF! There is absolutely no way around the simple truth of this Scripture.
Now how many different prophetic days are mentioned a dozen times in the Scriptures, and are said to come "as a thief in the night?" Only one--"the day of the Lord"!
Thus a Scripture misused to try and support a secret rapture theory, in reality, proves just the opposite. Now notice one thing more. Although the day of the Lord does not "overtake" them as (a thief as it would if they were "in darkness"), they are, nonetheless, still present at the time of the day of the Lord and have NOT been raptured away! Whoever the saints are at the time of the "day of the Lord," they are still present on earth and have not as yet been raptured OR resurrected! Although the day of the Lord does not "overtake the saints as a thief," it nonetheless DOES COME AS A THIEF, and NO ONE is resurrected before it comes!
ANSWER: A careful examination of the Scriptures will show that "the day of the Lord" does not include the tribulation or the great tribulation. "The day of the Lord" and "the tribulation" are different terms, and the Scriptures do separate them. They are not overlapping events as we shall clearly see.
Here then, is proof that the "day of the Lord" does not include the "great tribulation" (as translated in the Authorized Version), or the "great affliction" (as translated in the Concordant Version). This time of "great tribulation" or "great affliction" (Jacob's trouble--Jer. 30:7), is so great, that we are told that such an event will occur only once in the history of the world (Mat 24:21). Therefore, it is impossible that there can be two such events--only one can be of the greatest magnitude ever. Is it therefore possible that this event is a part of the "great day of the Lord" as suggested by rapture defenders? No, it is not. Here's the proof:
PROOF FOR WHEN THE DAY OF THE LORD WILL COME
Let us be clear, that the "day of the Lord" is the time period of Christ's return to this earth to punish Babylon the Great and to pour out His righteous indignation on her (and on those nations who follow and worship her) for her evil crimes of inhumanity and blasphemy. Here is the order of events (Mat. 24:29-30). It's as simple as one, two, three:
The "day of the Lord," the day that the Lord comes, clearly is "after" the great affliction, and "after" the heavenly signs. The book of Joel gives us a second confirmation:
"Alas! Alas! Alas for the day! For near is the DAY OF THE LORD.
And as devastation from Him Who-Suffices is it coming" (Joel 1:15).
So we have this event neatly book-ended with references to the "great affliction" and the "heavenly signs." Matt. 24:29 clearly tells us that "immediately AFTER" the great affliction or tribulation of those days, the signs in the sun, moon and stars occur, followed by the return of Christ--the day of the Lord. And Joel 2:31 clearly tells us that the signs in the heavens occur "BEFORE" the coming of the day of the Lord. As to the chronology of these grand events, there can be no honest dispute--the day of the Lord does not include the great tribulation, but comes after the great tribulation, and after the heavenly signs.
DAY OF THE LORD COMES AS A THIEF
ANSWER: We have already shown in Scripture that the great tribulation ends at our Lord's advent, it does not begin. Nor is the tribulation ushered in, as a thief, three and one half years earlier or seven years earlier. It is our Lord's "coming" that is as a thief, not "tribulation." "Gloominess" and "darkness" during the time of the day of the Lord is not the main aspect of the figure of a thief or even a minor aspect of this figure of a thief. The Bible tells us plainly what the figure represents. It is representative of " when He comes" -- "His coming"! Nothing else.
"Darkness and gloom" is not being compared with "a thief in the night," at all. The world is in darkness and gloom, but the actual "coming" of our Lord is in no way analogous to "gloom and darkness." How can anyone even suggest that the Lord's coming as a thief is comparable to night, darkness, or gloom, when the Scriptures plainly tell us that,
Nothing is as bright as lightning--not even the sun. No one will know when our Lord comes, but when He appears, everyone on earth will know!
"Power," "Glory," and "LIGHTNING" have no fellowship with "darkness," "evil" and "gloom"!
Furthermore, the fact that Christ is coming "as" "a thief in the night" has absolutely nothing to do with either an actual thief or actual night time. And, likewise, it has nothing to do with negativism. This is figurative language. This is not to be taken literally. Let us be clear, that Jesus Christ is not coming as a thief, to steal! And He is not coming at night so that no one can see Him coming (the aspect of His coming as "lightning" should dispel any such idea).
If we would let the Scriptures speak to us and explain things to us, it would become abundantly clear that there is only one aspect of Christ's coming that is applicable to "a thief in the night." Actually, the phrase "in the night" is not even necessary to our understanding of this idiom. In fact, most Scripture references even drop the aspect of "in the night" and refer only to "a thief."
From all these Scriptures it is clear that "in the night" is not an important aspect of this idiom. It's just that most thieves do come at night, but it is not necessary that a thief come at night in order to be perfectly suited to the one aspect of Christ's coming that is likened to the coming of a thief, or surely six separate Scriptures would not have left "in the night" out of this idiom. Here is a major proof that coming as a thief has absolutely nothing to do with darkness or gloominess, or for sure, the phrase "in the night" would never be left out of this idiom.
We might ask whether it is even possible for someone coming from Heaven (assuming that heaven is above earth's atmosphere?) to this Earth, to do so "at night?" After all, when approaching the Earth from outer space, it is always daylight over half the earth!
In Jerusalem, however, our Lord's coming might be, "... at evening, or midnight, or cock crowing, or morning ..." (Mark 13:35).
I almost hesitate to comment on the argument that if the figure of a thief represents the unexpectedness of Christ's coming, then those watching would not be surprised when He came. But if that is so, then we conclude that those who are watching will not be surprised by His arrival, yet Matt. 24:43-44 suggests that even if they are ready, such an hour as you think not the Son of Man comes. (Emphasis mine).
Is the writer suggesting that this Scripture contradicts the idea that Christ's coming is as a thief? That if some should be "watching," then they will not be surprised when Christ comes? Such an idea is not logical or sound reasoning. Let me attempt to state this idea clearly. Can we agree on the fact that Jesus did not lie when He said: "Now, concerning that day and hour no one is aware, neither the messengers of the heavens, nor the Son; except the Father only" (Matt. 24:36)? Okay then, no one knows when Christ will return. So, even if one is watching, he still will not know when He will return! The very fact that someone would be "watching" is proof positive that he DOESN'T known when the return occurs.
Those "not watching" probably don't even believe Christ is going to return. They will be surprised when it happens. Those who "are watching" believe the Christ is going to return, but neither do they know when He will return. The figure of the thief represents the unexpectedness of His coming--nothing else. If one knows the exact hour that a guest is to arrive at his home, he doesn't need to sit by the window watching for days or weeks. If he knows the exact hour, he could, in fact, set his alarm clock and go to sleep. Here's another point from this figure of a thief. It's a minor point, but nevertheless, a point. Matt. 24 not only states that no one will know when our Lord will return, but it even further suggests that it will be at a time considered the most unlikely. Notice it: "... for in an hour which you are not supposing, the Son of Mankind is coming" (Verse 44).
Consider also, that if Christ wanted to give a figure of speech that represents the day of the Lord (rather than His actual "appearing"), then "as a thief" would be totally inappropriate.
The Day of the Lord represents: Vengeance, Wrath, Indignation, Fire, Gloominess, Darkness, Clouds and Murkiness, Mourning, Devastation, War, Pain, Suffering, and Death--wholesale DEATH. One might choose to represent such evil, A Monster, Satan, a Devil, A Wild Beast, or some such thing, but not a "thief.". Our Lord doesn't even suggest that it is "an armed robber or thief"--just " a thief." A "thief" is not in the least representative of the horrors of worldwide pain, suffering, fear, and slaughter. A "thief" is about as analogous to or representative of these unprecedented horrors and carnage of most of the human race as a teddy bear or a rubber ducky would be. And that's why God does use Monsters, Wild Beasts, demons, and Satan himself, as the personification of the greatest evils in history, not "a thief"!
If Christ's actual return and appearing in great glory is not a thing of darkness, gloominess, and negativism, how then does Christ return to this Earth "as a thief," or "as a thief in the night?" We don't need to use human reasoning or speculation, many Scriptures tell us exactly how His return is "as a thief." Christ returns to this Earth is as a thief in that no one will know when He will return. The time of His return, is unexpected. And that is the only way in which Christ comes as "a thief." Not one of these Scriptures (which fully and simply explain the figure of a thief), mentions one word about the "ominousness" of the dark and gloomy day as the reason for the figure of a thief. Here are the Scriptures:
There we have eight separate Scriptural explanations as to why and how Christ returns as a thief, and not one of these Scriptures connects a thief with the ominousness of gloominess, darkness, and the like. Christ does not return as a thief because it is gloomy out. He does not return as a thief because He will come in the middle of the night. And He does not come as a thief because that He, Himself, is a thief. No, none of these. He comes as a thief, unexpectedly. That's it. We don't know when. All eight verses pinpoint the one aspect of unexpectedness!
ANSWER: The subject is the Presence of the Lord at the resurrection of the saints in I Thessalonians. We are being told that their expectation is described by the words "light" and "day." And that this is "By way of contrast ..." But contrasted to what? Well, the sentence before speaks of the gloominess of the day of the Lord. But isn't that the time when the saints of Israel have their expectation? Yes it is. If our expectation is described by the words "light" and "day" as contrasted with Israel's expectation, would not their expectation then have to be "dark" and of the "night"?
I don't see any other possibility for this statement. For if " our expectation is light and day, and it is "contrasted" with someone else's expectation, then of necessity, their expectation must be the opposite, and be "dark" and of the "night." But if true, where is the Scripture?
Do the Scriptures speak of the saints of Israel as being "of the dark and of the night"? Let us see if the Scriptures speak of the saints of Israel (or their expectation), as being of the "dark" and of the "night," as "contrasted" with the Gentile Thessalonians who are of the "light" and of the "day."
There doesn't appear to be a "contrast," but rather perfect harmony. ALL saints are of the light and of the day!
ANSWER: In the second to the last chapter of this article the author concedes the following:
So then maybe it really does occur after the tribulation period just like the Scripture says, ("Now immediately AFTER the affliction [tribulation] of those days ... they shall see the Son of Mankind COMING ..." Matt. 24:29-31). Now, if both groups of saints are resurrected after the tribulation, how is it possible that the rapture "... comes under different conditions"? Also, if the rapture occurs after and not prior to the tribulation, why would Christ have to come twice . Why would there be two resurrections?
I thought the whole rapture theory rested on the notion that, (1) God did
not appoint them to indignation or wrath [never mind for the moment that God
did appoint them to tribulation], (2) They have a different calling in Heaven,
therefore all these tribulations and earthly things are of no interest or
consequence to them. (3) They have a "pre-expectation" which, therefore, must
occur long before Israel's expectation, etc.
Regardless, if both groups of saints pass through the tribulations without being vivified, then both groups find themselves at the next great event, the coming of the Lord. So how is it that Christ is coming for the Thessalonians "under different conditions"? If both groups of saints come through the tribulation together without being vivified, then whatever the "conditions" are at that time in the world, it will be the same for both of them. And surely, God can protect anyone at anytime under any circumstances without resurrecting him to immortality.
ANSWER: It is stated that the King James Version puts this rescue in the past tense. Well maybe they shouldn't have. The American Standard Version puts it in the aorist [imperfect] tense, "... even Jesus, who delivereth us ..." J. B. Rotherham has it, "... Jesus: Who is to rescue us out of the anger that is coming ..." And the Revised Standard Version also uses the aorist tense, "... Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come ..."
If this promise is "past tense," then it does not include anyone in the future for whom this rapture is supposedly promised. For just such reason, I believe, Mr. Knoch discovered a great key to the Scriptures in his understanding of the aorist tense of Greek verbs. Should John 3:16 be, "For God so loved [past tense] the world ..." or "For God thus loves (aorist--imperfect) the world ..."? It is the latter.
There is a failure here to discriminate between the Scriptural use of words. Notice in the second sentence the word "wrath." Then in the third sentence he uses the word "indignation." In the fifth sentence he uses the word "hurricane." And in the last sentence he uses the word "troubles." This can only cause confusion. The prophetic event known as "the indignation of almighty God" is a totally different prophetic event from "the great tribulation," also known as "Jacob's trouble."
At this point in our discussion, it will be helpful to define some words that are often interchanged as if they are virtually one and the same. It is important that we understand the meanings of important words that are wrongly applied by those who teach the rapture:
Although there is somewhat of an overlap in defining these words, we can still get a clear picture as to how these words are used in the Scriptures. Notice that "affliction" and "tribulation" are nearly synonymous. Notice also, that "wrath" and "indignation" are nearly synonymous. "Affliction" can be defined as "tribulation," and "tribulation" can be defined as "affliction." Likewise, "wrath" can be defined as "indignation," and "indignation" can be defined as "wrath." But, the first two words, "affliction and tribulation" are not synonymous with the second two words, "wrath and indignation." There is a giant difference in their usage, and especially when used in a prophetic setting. I hope I haven't lost anyone. Reread this a few times and you'll get it.
It is when we fail to keep these prophetic events where they belong that we end up with ideas such that Christ is coming back a second time twice.
The Scripture says,
It nowhere says that God has not appointed us to trials, troubles, pain, suffering, heartache, disappointment, disease, death, or hurricanes! In fact, Paul himself, tells us that we enter the Kingdom of God by going through a whole lot of these things (Acts 14:22).
I personally, presently, am going through trials, troubles, pain, suffering, heartache, disappointment, disease, and two very near death experiences in the past few years, not to mention hurricane Andrew. But, nonetheless, it is a great comfort to me to know that God has not appointed me to His indignation. Believers are chastised by a wise Father out of LOVE, the nations will be punished by an angry God out of VENGEANCE. Can we not see the difference? (Actually God's "anger and vengeance" is also out of love, but the nations will certainly not initially perceive it as such).
When we look at all the ways that "indignation" is used in the Greek Scriptures, it becomes overwhelmingly clear that "indignation" is used of God to punish the wicked and stubborn. Indignation is not a direct form of chastisement. No matter how many, how much, how often, how severe your sufferings and tribulations may be, if you love God you can be absolutely guaranteed that not one iota of it is coming upon you in the form of God's indignation. Here then is how, on whom, and when God pours out His indignation:
There are the Greek Scriptures on indignation. Notice that it always comes from God. It is poured out in vengeance upon the unrepentant, the stubborn, the unjust and irreverent, those who worship the beast, etc. Never is God's indignation poured out on His SAINTS! Not the Gentile saints and not the Jewish saints. The saints of Israel have not "been appointed to indignation", they are not "of the night," they will not "be overtaken as a thief," they are a part of " all the saints," I Thes. 2:14 and 3:13.
It is stated that those called in Paul's message of grace will not go through the Great Tribulation period, because:
But look at our definitions of words again. God is promising to rescue us out of coming "indignation," not "tribulation." God did not appoint us to "indignation," but He did appoint us to "tribulation." These terms are not synonymous.
Straightening out the understanding of the Thessalonians (who decidedly did not know all about the day of the Lord) was the main purpose for Paul writing these two letters in the first place! Paul does not chastise the Thessallonians for believing wrong doctrine, or committing terrible sins, or lacking in faith. Not at all. But rather,
So what was their problem? Why these two epistles from Paul? Here's what was happening in Thessalonica:
The word "afflicted or affliction" is used eight times in these few verses. "Suffering" is used three times. "Endurance" is used twice. Then we have the words, "struggle," "outraged," "necessity," and "persecutions." So were the Thessalonians " not appointed to these things?" Were they " rescued out of these things?" No. No they weren't. Now, is there one word in either I or II Thessalonians that states or indicates that anyone suffered or will suffer from "The wrath or indignation of Almighty God"? NO, there isn't! But they (the Thessalonians) thought maybe they were suffering the wrath or indignation of God, because they were suffering, and as they did not know all about the day of the Lord, they were fearful that they were already living through the prophesied "Day of the Lord."
Paul had already told them in his first letter, that, "No one is to be swayed by these AFFLICTIONS, for you yourselves are aware that we are located [appointed] for this" (I Thes. 3:4). Just as many today who teach the rapture, these Thessalonians had failed to discriminate between the "wrath or indignation of God" and the "trials, suffering, and afflictions" that they were going through. The "wrath and indignation" of God, we are "not appointed to," and, therefore, will be "rescued out of it." However, "tribulation, suffering, and afflictions" we are appointed to (I Thes. 3:4, "Through many afflictions [much tribulation] must we be entering into the kingdom of God" Acts 14:22, and from most of which we will NOT be rescued.
It was, in fact, (in a relative sense only), these very afflictions and tribulations that made the Thessalonians worthy to enter the Kingdom of God. Notice it:
For anyone who has suffered very little from, disease, heartbreak, financial distress, persecution, pain and suffering, and the like, it is difficult for such a one to put himself in the shoes of the Thessalonians. Their affliction and suffering was great. Although they were very faithful to God, there was much they did not know. They didn't have the advantage of the New Testament Greek Scriptures as we do today, with the exception of the four gospel accounts which were already in circulation according to some experts. I doubt that many Gentiles could read the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures. They had "Paul" the great teacher, and his marvelous display of miracles and works, but little else to teach them.
So Paul filled them with assurance of Christ's return to this Earth, the resurrection of the dead, and their entry into God's Kingdom. They believed, because of their severe suffering and persecution, that they were already in that time. Notice how Paul inspired them in his first epistle;
These six Scriptures ALL deal with the second coming, the Day of the Lord, the Unveiling of Jesus Christ.
We have emphasized the great persecution and tribulation that the Thessalonians were going through in Paul's first letter to them. And to encourage them, Paul mentions the "Presence of the Lord" in all five chapters of I Thessalonians. Through the years they became labored, distressed, and ill at ease. So in II Thes. the first chapter (as soon as Paul gives a brief introduction), Paul again praises them for "bearing" these relentless hardships and afflictions (Verses 4-5), and then he immediately comforts and consoles them by letting them know that they will receive ease [rest] from these sufferings and afflictions. But when? If ever there was to be such a thing as a rapture, look when it would have to take place.
Next verse: "... with US [Paul and ALL the saints, I Thes. 3:13], at the UNVEILING [the 'unveiling' is 'the day of the Lord', I Cor. 1:7-8], of the Lord Jesus from heaven [Mat. 24:30, Rev. 19:11, I Thes. 4:16] with His powerful messengers [Matt. 24:31, I Thes. 4:16, Rev. 11:15, Rev. 19:14] in flaming fire [Rev. 19:12], dealing out vengeance to those who are not acquainted with God and those who are not obeying the evangel of our Lord Jesus Christ--who shall incur the justice of eonian extermination from the face of the Lord and from the glory of His strength [Rev. 11:18, 19:15] whenever He may be coming to be glorified in His saints [including the saints in the ecclesias of Judea whom the Thessalonians imitated, I Thes. 2:14, also, I Thes. 2:19, 3:13, 4:15, 5:23, Mat. 24:31, I Cor. 15:22,51-53, Rev. 11:18, I Pet. 1:4-7, 13, 2:1, 5:4, II Pet. 3: 9-13] and to be marveled at in all who believe [that's All saints everywhere] (seeing that our testimony to you was believed) in that DAY" (II Thes. 1:7-10).
Verse 7 is absolute proof that Paul and the Thessalonians are to receive their ease and rest from persecution and affliction "at" the unveiling of Jesus Christ. So it can't be a "secret" rapture because ALL the saints will be in it.
The second witness as to when the uncircumcision gentile saints (specifically, the Corinthians in Greece) were expecting Christ to return for them:
Notice that all this takes place "at the UNVEILING," "in the DAY OF THE LORD."
The very fact that Paul says the Corinthians will be "AWAITING" the unveiling of our Lord and the day of the Lord for these things to happen is proof positive, that these things had not already occurred three and one-half or seven years earlier. Likewise, Paul would not have told them that they would be confirmed "unimpeachable in the day of our Lord" if they were already confirmed unimpeachable seven years earlier. These Scriptures are very clear as to when these things happen-- at the unveiling and in the day of the Lord!
Remember that Paul told the Thessalonians that they would
Paul told Timothy the same thing. Paul told Timothy to pursue, endure, and contend, as the Thessalonians also did,
The only advent in which Jesus is called "King of kings and Lord of lords" is when He return to earth to do battle in the Day of the Lord,
And when did Peter teach that we would receive rest and glory for enduring our testing?
So here are numerous witnesses as to the time of the delivery from this world's ills for both the Jews and the Gentiles. And none of them occurs at any so called "secret rapture." In all honesty, let's ask ourselves a question:
If the two Scriptural references in II Thes. 1 and I Cor. 1 had used the word "rapture" or "snatched away" instead of the word "unveiling," would not rapturists use these Scriptures as proof for their secret rapture?" Well then, I firmly believe that we have absolute Scriptural proof that these things do not take place at any "secret rapture," seeing as God's Word plainly states, " AT the UNVEILING" and "in the DAY OF THE LORD"!
These things happen "at" the unveiling of Jesus Christ in the day of the Lord, not years "before."
What does the little word "at" mean? Webster's, at, prep., in; on; near; by. It does not mean, "before," "long before," "seven years before," "three and one-half years before" nor does it mean "after." Outside of the realm of religion, we seldom have problems understanding simple words like "at." Try this: " At what time did the train arrive? It arrived at seven hours before it arrived." If language can be twisted like that, maybe there is a secret rapture.
Just after this revelation, Paul instructs us that,
There are things in the Scriptures that I don't believe anyone alive fully understands. However, the teaching regarding when the resurrection of the saints takes place, is not difficult. In chapter 15 Paul tells us that this resurrection takes place at the last trump. Here he tells us that it will be at the "unveiling," at the "consummation" of this age, when "the day of the Lord" is ushered in. It is in perfect harmony with Matt. 24 and the book of Revelation.
Our Lord does not come a second time TWICE to gather "ALL His saints" (I Thes. 3:13). Rapturists can "reduce" from the Scriptures, they can "deduce" from the Scriptures, but they can't "produce" from the Scriptures a single statement that says there are two resurrection, at two different times, for two different sets of saints, and that our Lord is going to accomplish this feat by returning a second time, TWICE!
ALL SAINTS ARE RESCUED FROM THE COMING INDIGNATION
ANSWER: Did Paul really believe that God would rescue him personally from a soon-coming indignation"? That seems very doubtful in the light of Scripture.
Paul knew that he would suffer many things for the name of Jesus Christ in his ministry, from the very beginning:
And it was no secret to Paul that he would give his life for Christ's name sake when his ministry came to an end:
Let's think about this statement that Paul's rescue or deliverance had already occurred "nineteen hundred years ago." As the Concordant Version uses the word "Rescuer," let's stay with that word. On the tape: The presence of Christ in I Thes. 4:16, a big issue is made over whether to be rescued "out of" something really means that one must first be "in" something. In other words, how could the Thessalonians be rescued "out" of indignation which was yet thousands of years into the future? Their answer goes like this:
Maybe someone has "compared it to the removal of someone from the pathway of an approaching storm," but they shouldn't have, because it is an invalid comparison. Why didn't they compare it to the removal of someone from the pathway of an approaching bullet? Why a storm. I'll tell you why. Because an approaching storm allows for a little more time. In other words, we see the storm coming, but it isn't here yet, so we remove someone from the path it will take so that when it does arrive, the potential victim is safe and out of danger. So why then is this an invalid comparison? Because it is proposed that the saints will be removed seven years in advance of the coming indignation! And in the case of the Thessalonians, it is said that they were already supposedly rescued nineteen hundred years ago. I have never heard of people being "rescued" from the pathway of a storm that will not arrive for another seven years! That cannot be classified as a "rescue!"
There is a TV series hosted by William Shatner, called, "RESCUE 911." The excitement in the show is its many rescues that come very near to disaster or death. I can absolutely guarantee that the show would be a total flop if they showed emergency agencies rescuing people from the pathway of oncoming storms that will not arrive for another SEVEN YEARS! Or maybe rescuing people from crashing planes that haven't even taken off the ground as yet. Or maybe haven't even as yet been designed or built.
What does it mean to be "rescued? Greek-English Keyword Concordance, rescue , r[h]u'omai = HAUL, drag away from danger.
We do not "drag" someone away from a danger that does not yet exist! We might "remove" them. We might "relocate" them. We might "transfer" them There are any number of ways to describe taking someone out of a yet future harmful situation. However, "RESCUE" is not one of them! I strongly contend that this one little innocent word "rescue" is a major problem for those teaching the secret rapture. God does not "drag" His saints into a secret rapture in order to avoid His indignation that will not be arriving until seven years into the future!
ANSWER: No, we have not been removed from the pathway of approaching troubles, nor will we be removed from such. Trials, troubles, suffering, persecution, pain, and disappointment are the very lot of all who will live godly in Christ Jesus.
ANSWER: "The coming affliction" and "that time of gloom and darkness" are NOT the same events in prophecy! Notice what the Scriptures say regarding these two different events:
The "great affliction" comes before the heavenly signs (Mat. 24:29) and the "day of the Lord"--which is when God's indignation is poured out (a day of "darkness and gloominess"). comes after the heavenly signs (Joel 2:21). Or, so as to not confuse anyone, we can say that, the heavenly signs come after the great tribulation, but before the day of the Lord.
Is there really some giant, practical difference between:
This is a mute argument. Either way God will keep all safe from the impending evils.
ANSWER: I don't quite understand this argument. Why is it significant that the 144,000 are not sealed until just before the afflictions begin if Paul was not actually rescued thousands of years ago, but, "that is, he was assured of never having to undergo that period." (Emphasis mine). Obviously this is so, seeing that the great day of the Lord and God's indignation was not poured out back in Paul's day.
Paul was not actually "rescued" two thousand years ago. The Thessalonians were not actually rescued two thousand years ago. In fact, no one was actually rescued two thousand years ago. But, the promise was given two thousand years ago, that God did not appoint the saints to indignation, and when that day of the Lord does finally arrive, God will rescue his saints (no matter what color, size, race, or sex) from His wrath poured out on sinning humanity.
So how is it "significant" that they aren't sealed until just before the day of the Lord and the coming indignation? There is no need to seal or rescue them any earlier, and no one else is going to be rescued any earlier. Whenever anyone becomes a believer, and reads and believes the Scriptures, and reads in I Thes. 1:10 and 5:9 that Christ is our Rescuer and God has not appointed us to indignation, then that believer will have that promise just as any other saint that has ever read and believed this passage! Where does it say that this promise and this Scripture is not for believing Jews? Where does it say or insinuate such a thing? Then why teach it? Then why two separate comings of our Lord? Why two resurrections? What is it about the believing Jewish saints of Israel that would disqualifies them from being in this so-called secret rapture? It is this drawing of racial lines that makes this teaching not only unscriptural, but also divisive.
ISRAEL'S RESURRECTION DAY IS UNKNOWN
ANSWER: Let's read Dan. 12:13:
I will likewise say, that it may be "assumed" that there is a resurrection in Dan. 12:13, but, to use the writer's own words, maybe "such a thing should NOT be assumed" seeing that, "there is NO MENTION of a resurrection" in this verse either! Let's read this verse very carefully before jumping to the conclusion that the 1335th day is the resurrection day for Israel. Notice verse 12:
"Happy is he who will tarry ..." Tarry means, "to wear away the time" Keyword Concordance p. 298. Of the ten times "tarry" is used in the Greek Scriptures, not once does it refer or have any reference to, dead people. So what this means is, that the "happy" person in this verse has already been resurrected to life before the end of the 1335 days, and that is why he is "wearing away the time [waiting] to the 1335 days."
Not only does this "happy" person have to tarry or wait to the 1335 days, but he also has to "attain"--Greek: katantao = DOWN-INSTEAD, arrive at, or attain. Example: "... for the upbuilding of the body of Christ, unto the end that we should all attain to the unity of the faith ..." (Eph. 4:13).
Okay, so one must "tarry" and "attain" to what? "... to the thousand three hundred and thirty-five days!" (Dan.12:12). It doesn't say to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-" fifth" day as our opponents on this subject contend--the day that Daniel is reported to be resurrected on. No, not at all. After this resurrection, there is a "waiting" and "attaining" period. How long? It doesn't say, but we get a clue by the phrase "... and you shall rest and stand up for your lot at the end of days. "Forty-five days after this (1335 days) seems to be the time set for the resurrection of Daniel ..." P. 65. There is no mention of a resurrection in this verse!
We need to be careful about setting dates for Christ's return. We are told that when the man of sin takes his position in the Holy Place of the Temple, (an event that will obviously not take place in secret), it will be exactly 1335 days to the day for the resurrection of the saints of Israel. We are also told, that the 1260th day is the actual day of Christ's return. How then is it that Christ told his disciples numerous times that no man (not even rapturists) knows the time of His return (remember that thing about coming unexpectedly, like "a thief")?
Israel was granted "lots" in the promised land. When God resurrects Israel, they will once again return to their designated lots, and Daniel will have his lot. One obvious reason for this wait between resurrection and actual possession of their lots has to do with the condition of the land itself. We read of the vultures feasting on dead men's carcasses. The filth and stench will be terrible. It may take weeks or months to clean up the land suitable for possession and habitation before anyone actually "stands in his lot."
Next let's examine the statement that, There is no mention of a resurrection in Zechariah 14:1-5, Matthew 24:29-31 or Revelation 14:1-5, thought it is often assumed that it is there.
ANSWER: It is true that the word "resurrection" does not appear in these three Scriptures, but that does not necessarily rule out the fact that there is a resurrection taking place. For our proof, we will now go to the "rapture book" itself, Thessalonians.
Does " all His saints" include "all" His saints, or just the living saints? The answer is on next page, "For, if we are believing that Jesus died and rose, thus also, those who are put to repose [dead], will God, through Jesus, lead forth TOGETHER with Him" (I Thes. 4:14. Now follow this very carefully, ALL the saints, living and dead, are gathered together, at His presence, to ever be with Him. Does this gathering of all the saints only happen in I Thes. 4:16? No it doesn't.
Let's next read Zechariah 14:1-5:
This writer is correct, there's no mention of a resurrection or gathering of the saints in these verses. But there is in the NEXT verse:
Any questions as to who these chosen are?
Revelation 14:1-5: I don't know of anyone who has ever suggested that these verses are talking about the resurrection. But let's turn back a couple of chapters:
This verse includes everyone. Definitely, the dead are raised, and then we have wages to, Thy slaves, the prophets, the saints, those fear Thy name, the small, and the great. I believe that's everybody.
ANSWER: That is an assumption that is nowhere stated as such. Furthermore, we have proof in I Thes. 4:14-16 that the dead and the living saints will be resurrected together. All the saints--the same "all" as mentioned from Zechariah to Revelation.
Those who deduce a "secret rapture" from I Thes. 4:14-16 do not have exclusive right to interpret that Scripture. We who believe that all the Scriptures that refer to Christ's second coming harmonize into only one event, have as much right to the use of this Scripture as anyone else. I certainly am not going to shy away from it just because it is the Scripture used most frequently by rapturists. It is a great proof Scripture to show how all the Scriptures pertaining to the second coming of our Lord harmonize.
Do we suppose that the Saints of Thessalonica are snatched away when conditions on earth are peaceful and calm? At a time before there is any afflictions, persecutions, sufferings, and the like? Is that what not being appointed to indignation suggests? Hardly!
The Thessalonians were under extreme hardship at the time this epistle was written, and Paul suggested, that if anything, these conditions would increase and get worse. It is to be "at the unveiling of the Lord Jesus" that the saints and the ones living at His coming will receive "rest" (II Thes. 1:7). Let's notice very carefully, that in I Thes. 4:15 and 16 that it is not those who are merely still alive at Christ's coming that will be snatched away with the raised dead. Paul did NOT say (twice, ver. 15 and 17), that we, the living, who are ALIVE, will be snatched away, but rather "... we, the living, who are SURVIVING ..."
"Surviving" does not necessarily always carry the connotation of just living beyond that of others in view, but also, "someone capable of surviving changing conditions, MISFORTUNE, etc." ( Webster's New World Dictionary). Certainly, the surviving saints of Israel are those who come through great tribulation, but so are the surviving uncircumcision saints. Neither the Jewish saints nor the Gentile saints are appointed to indignation, but both are most definitely appointed to tribulations (I Thes. 1:10 & 5:9 versus I Thes. 3:3 & Acts 14:22).
ANSWER: I am sure that practically no one would debate the fact that this is new revelation regarding the resurrection and the second coming of our Lord. But then again doesn't virtually every book of the New Testament Greek Scriptures contain at least some new revelation. In fact, even in the Hebrew Scriptures, I don't believe there is a single mention of what anyone at the time would have believed to be the "second" coming of our Lord. The "second coming" is pretty much a New Testament doctrine.
I Cor. 115:51 also tells us that,
But, containing heretofore unknown information doesn't make it a separate and different event from all the other prophesies concerning the second coming of our Lord. Actually, every prophecy concerning Christ's second coming has more or less detailed information that differs from every other prophecy dealing with the same subject.
But, I Cor. 15 which speaks of the "resurrection of the dead," "all being changed," "dead roused incorruptible," "living are changed," "mortal to immortality," etc., etc., (absolutely this is the second coming of Christ and the resurrection), but ... But, there is NO mention at all of "messengers"!
How, pray tell, does any of this prove FIVE OR SIX different second comings of our Lord? It doesn't, anymore than my examples of different details in reporting Christ's crucifixion proves multiple crucifixions of our Lord.
Furthermore, it may be deduced that the dead and the living are raised and honored together if we look very carefully at Rev. 11:15-18. The seventh and last trumpet (verse 15) trumpets and God's indignation arrives (Ver. 18) and it is the time to: "... give their wages to Thy slaves, the prophets ..." I believe we would have to concede that these include the prophets of old who have long been put to repose. So then, these prophets would be rising from the dead along with the living being gathered to Christ at this seventh and last trump, "... in the presence of our Lord Jesus with all His saints" (I Thes. 3:13). Lk. 13:28-30 also confirms the fact that, "... whenever you should be seeing Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and ALL the prophets in the kingdom of God ..."
I am certainly not claiming this as a major proof, only as a possibility. Even if these "lamenting and gnashing their teeth" are those not raised until the great white throne of judging, the indication is that these prophets will already be "in the kingdom of God" (Ver 28).
OUR LORD DOES NOT RETURN TO HIS SAINTS BY HIMSELF ALONE
ANSWER: Are we to believe that the archangel followed Christ from heaven to earth, made a quick cameo appearance by giving a shout, and then went back to heaven?
What about this argument. When God inspires the pronoun "Himself" to be used in Scripture does it prove that that one person only can be present?
Even in our own everyday vernacular this statement is not accurate. Suppose I made the following statement: "Did you know that the White house is going to be represented at our convention?" To which someone might reply: "Oh, the White House is going to send a representative?" To which I would reply: "No. President Bush himself is coming." Now as you all know, the President of the greatest nation on earth, NEVER travels alone. Did we think that Jesus Christ would return by "Himself," alone? Our Lord is not sending messengers to "represent" Him at this awesome and auspicious occasion (although angels will be present). No, our Lord "HIMSELF" is coming!
Let us see if the Scriptures "themselves" (pun intended) prove that the pronoun "Himself" does not necessarily mean "by Himself, alone."
It is God's plan and purpose to bring many sons into His family. When new Jerusalem descends out of heaven, it is stated that God will dwell with them on the earth. Did we think that God will be dwelling in New Jerusalem all by Himself, alone? That would, of course, defeat His very purpose of "dwelling with them."
So let it be clear to all that in I Thes. 4:16 where it is said that "... the Lord Himself will be descending from heaven ..." it certainly does not prove or mean that He comes "alone," especially in the light of the above Scriptures which prove that Christ or God are present " themselves" in the company of many or even multitudes.
ANSWER: These arguments are a grasping for straws. They have no validity at all. Actually, Zechariah 14 does not say that the Lord gathers His saints on, or while standing on, the Mount of Olives. Here is what it does say regarding the gathering of His saints:
Clearly it is when He "shall come," (not after He came), that they are gathered " with Him."
Revelation 14 does not mention the Mount of Olives, but rather mount Zion, where the 144,000 are with Christ, but it doesn't say that this is the very spot on which they were gathered initially.
Matt. 24 definitely includes the Jewish saints in that assembling and the actual gathering does not take place on the Mount of Olives. If by the "air" it is speaking of the literal air in our atmosphere (rather than to the jurisdiction of power said to be in the air in Eph. 2:2, which is more likely), then there are at least three proofs that this meeting in Matt. 24 takes place in the same "air" as I Thes. 4. Read Matt. 24:31 carefully:
ANSWER: True, it doesn't say. Even the author of Consolation in Expectation, p. 24 concedes: "There is something here which suggests that we go up and not down ... that our abode is the heaven, and not earth ... but it is only intimated, NOT REVEALED."
I know of no Scripture that states that Christ will set up His Kingdom and rule it from heaven. So it doesn't say He returns to heaven; it doesn't say He returns to earth; it doesn't say He stays in the air either. We know from other Scriptures and prophesies that Christ does indeed return and rule on this earth. However, for the sake of the rapturists, can we know from this very Scripture alone whether Christ immediately returns with His saints to earth or does He return to heaven first for a number of years?
We can learn something remarkable from the way that God uses the word "meet" in this Scripture.
In this verse as in three others, God uses the Greek word apatesis which is translated "to meet." It is distinguished from a half dozen other Greek words which are variously translated, "meet,' "meet with," "meeting," "meeting with," etc. The Greek word apatesis, is, however, used only three other times.
One authority tells us that this word apatesis was used in ancient times to describe the actions of an official welcoming delegation that had been sent "to meet" a visiting dignitary.
It is said that the word literally meant, "meeting and returning with." Not being an etymologist, historian, or scholar, I can't speak with any authority here, but I can use a concordance and I can read the Scriptures. Let's look at these three occasions and see if, indeed, this word carries the connotation of "meeting and returning with."
And again, it is seen that they returned back to Rome with Paul, they did not return with Paul back to Puteoli.
The fourth time this Greek word apatesis is translated "to meet" is in I Thes. 4:17: "... we, the living who are surviving, shall at the same time be snatched away together with them in the clouds, to meet [ apatesis] the Lord in the air."
Now I am almost sure that I can hear faint protests in the distance from objecting rapturists. Notwithstanding, based on all the usage's of this word apatesis [to meet], and we read them all, when someone went out to meet someone else, where did they always go next? That's right, back where they came from. So if God is consistent with the use of this word, then when the saints of I Thes. 4 meet the Lord in the air, they will then return with Christ back to the EARTH!
ANSWER: Allow me to shorten this statement down a little. "... out bodies will be ... celestial ... while Abraham ... [is] promised ... a specific portion of the earth." (Actually, Scripture tells us that Abraham's "specific portion" is THE WORLD (Rom. 4:13). This, argument is, however, apples and oranges again. But we can, I think, get the gist of what is being presented here. Here it is in a nut shell:
Paul and the gentile saints are promised an allotment among the celestials [interpreted by rapturists to mean and/or include outer space], and therefore, supposedly, will need "celestial" bodies to travel where the environmental conditions of earth do not exist.. Abraham, on the other hand, is promised land on this earth, so he only needs a "terrestrial" body.
Is that what Paul is really teaching us in I Cor. 15:38-49? Let's read it together:
There are bodies celestial as well as bodies terrestrial. But a different glory, indeed, is that of the celestial yet a different that of the terrestrial, another glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars, for star is excelling star in glory ...
Thus also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is roused in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor; it is roused in glory. It is sown in infirmity; it is roused in power. It is sown a soulish body; it is roused a SPIRITUAL BODY ...
Paul tells us that there are bodies terrestrial and gives us several examples of terrestrial bodies: men, beasts, flyers, and fishes. He also informs us that there are celestial bodies. What is the difference between them?
Notice carefully, that after Paul comes to the matter of the resurrection in verse 42, he never mentions the word terrestrial again. Where does Paul say that anyone who is a saint will be vivified with a "terrestrial body"? Where? Then why teach it? If our very father Abraham is excluded from being roused with a celestial body, what guarantee does he have that he will even be given immortality? What about "incorruption," "glory," and "power"? Will the saints of Israel forfeit all these in their resurrection as well?
The teaching of the rapture in all of its ramifications , is a divisive doctrine!
The first man [Adam], was out of the earth, "soilish." Verse 47. Now notice what changes take place in verses 42-44 when we are roused and vivified:
"It is roused a SPIRITUAL [of the spirit or consisting of spirit] body." How does anyone suggest that Peter for example, or our father Abraham, who is, Keyword Concordance p. 6, "the father of the faithful of ALL nations," will be roused with "a SPIRITUAL body" that will nonetheless be "terrestrial--worldly, mundane, of the earth"? The author says, ... of course they will have to be given bodies again, but to say that they will be that much different ... they will be bodies much greater than they had before, but still terrestrial ... Where does Paul actually say such a thing? He doesn't!
A man who is soulish and soilish can, nonetheless, understand spiritual things if God endows him with His spirit (I Cor. 2:14). He can be spiritually minded or fleshly (I Cor. 3:2).
But to say when a person's very body is roused a spiritual body, that he is still "soilish, soulish, earthly-- terrestrial" doesn't seem to square with what Paul is actually saying in these verses. Does anyone really believe that if Christ wants to take His apostles from one nation to another in the Kingdom, that He will fly like an angel, but that the apostles will have to walk, take an ox cart, paddle a canoe, or book a ticket on Trans Millenium Airlines?
Paul flatly states in verse 50, that
Notice also that Paul says,
The resurrection of the dead, not the resurrection of a division of saints at a "secret rapture." Now this,
So clearly, "first" comes the "soulish," but "thereupon the spiritual." Peter, for example, was already, once, born soulish, but, "THEREUPON," he Peter, will be "SPIRITUAL" Peter, who was "born" SOULISH, will not also be "resurrected" SOULISH!
John was also one of the original apostles. John was a saint of Israel. John will rule on the earth over one of the twelve tribes of Israel. What kind of a body did God tell John he could have an expectation of at Christ's manifested presence?
Does not Paul agree with John's revelation when he says: "Now we are aware that God is working all together for the good of those who are loving God [that includes Peter and John], who are called according to the purpose that, whom He foreknew, He designates beforehand [that includes Peter and John], also, to be conformed to the IMAGE of His Son, for Him to be Firstborn among many [that includes Peter and John] brethren" (Rom. 8:28-30).
Since the apostles will see Christ as He IS, and shall be LIKE Him, I think it is a disgrace to suggest that the saints of Israel are to be "terrestrial" by nature. And furthermore, I think it close to blasphemy to suggest that our Lord Jesus Christ has a body that is "soulish, soilish, mundane, and earthy, of the land-- terrestrial! John doesn't say that there will be certain similarities between us and our Lord, but rather he says, "we shall be LIKE Him."
ANSWER: First of all, they have not been rescued (past tense). No one has been rescu ed out of indignation as yet--much of God's indignation is yet future.
Secondly, it is not difficult (Scripturally speaking) to see why God's chosen would have to go through tribulations. The Thessalonians were going through tribulation in the past! Saints and believers in today's world are going through tribulation now! Why does it seem a thing strange that believers at the time of the end should also go through tribulations then? The apostle Paul was not rescued out of indignation. The Thessalonians were not rescued out of indignation in the past. We are not being rescued out of indignation today. But, those who are alive at the " coming indignation," WILL be rescued out of it. None of God's saints are "appointed TO indignation," and only those alive at its actual coming, will be rescued [Gk: dragged away from danger] from it.
ANSWER: I believe I see the words "rapture theory" in that statement. Certainly there is nothing in the compound, "pre-expectant," that would place it before the resurrection of the saints of Israel. He is correct in saying that this pre-expectancy occurs long before the rest of humanity, because that is its application. There are two vivification's after Christ the Firstfruit:
All believers are in the first category, and are therefore " pre-expectant."
ANSWER: I will cover the aspect of pure grace, works, and fleshly standing a little later. Here I just want to answer the last sentence. According to this last sentence, when do Paul and the Thessalonians expect "rest"? He says, "... when these times of darkness and distress come upon the earth." Why should we use language that fogs the real issue? We don't have to use terms like, "times of darkness" or "distress." Those are not the words that Paul used when telling the Thessalonian exactly WHEN they would receive their "rest" from all of their trials and sufferings and persecutions. Let's read it:
"Times of darkness and distress" is a little general and nebulous. "AT the unveiling of the Lord Jesus ..." is absolutely specific and pinpoint accurate. But I believe it is to the chagrin of the rapturist to just honestly admit that this is when Paul and all the saints enter their rest from their labors and turmoil of this world. And, of course, it almost goes without saying, that the unveiling is also the time when the saints of Israel enter into their rest as well (Heb. 4:9).
The following arguments are from the tape, The Presence of Christ in I Thes. 4:13-18):
ANSWER: Of course this is a new teaching, and of course we do not find these exact words, that the living and the dead will rise together, outside of Paul's writings, but what does that prove? Does that mean that the "event" he is talking about is not found outside of his writings? I don't think so. Be aware that statements of fact do not somehow prove other theories that are not facts. The "fact" that the living and the dead rise together to meet the Lord in the air, in no way proves that there is a secret rapture. Paul's statement that the dead and the living rise to meet the Lord together in the air may not be found anywhere else, but it certainly does not contradict the numerous other Scriptures regarding the gathering of the "chosen," the "elect," the "saints," etc.
Paul tells us in I Cor. 15:53-54 that
This is the only Scripture in the Bible that tells us that we will be given "immortality." Does this then mean, according to rapturists' thinking, that no one except the saints under Paul's evangel will ever receive immortality? Seriously, if you believe there is to be a Secret Rapture, don't read any further until you answer this question! Since the giving of "immortality" is not mentioned outside of Paul's writings, does it prove that NO ONE ELSE but those under Paul's care will ever receive immortality? Well then, the above argument proves nothing.
I surely hope none will be offended at my criticisms. They are not to be taken personally. I, likewise, am ready and willing to be corrected about any of my writings. I openly invite it. If I am wrong on even a minor point, I want to know about it. Let's face it, no one single person has all the truth on any subject. But praise God, He does keep on increasing those truths He has already graciously given to us!
We could reverse this thought and go to one of the other apostles and see if they said anything profound that Paul didn't. Let's go to I John 3:2,
Now I believe that this is the only place that specifically says that we will be "like Him." Since John said this to the Jewish saints, does this exclude us of the nations? And furthermore, John did say "we" (Jews), not "you" (gentiles). Pretty silly, huh?
It's the same reasoning, but it is fallacious reasoning.
ANSWER: Certainly they were. If Paul had nothing new to tell anyone, why would God waste 13 books of the Bible devoted to his teachings? We learn HUNDREDS of new and different things in the writings of Paul, but none of that proves that our Lord is coming "a second time," TWICE!
ANSWER: Notice the numerous usage of the word "implication" and also the word "evidently." These matters are not clearly stated to be Israel's resurrection on those particular days. In the book of Revelation, when the angels or messengers gather and seal, for example, the 144,000 and the innumerable multitude from all nations, it is to protect them, not to vivify them. At this point in prophecy, Christ has not as yet returned. So the living are protected. The dead need not protection at this time, seeing that they are already (still) dead.
And, yes, Paul does use the expressions "in Christ" or "the dead in Christ," but how does any context limit such a phrase. Is, for example, "the LOVE of God" limited to some kind of contextual restrictions?
We can carry this "contextual" thing to the point of foolishness if we aren't careful. Notice this Scripture: "... nevertheless, for US there is one God, the Father, out of Whom all is, and we for Him, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom all is, and we through Him" (I Cor. 8:6). Notice the use of the pronouns "us" and "we." Can we say of these all-encompassing statements, that it is really only "for us" that these verses apply. For "us" (the saints in Paul's charge only) is there one God only? Do the saints of Israel therefore, have two or more Gods? Or maybe only one God, but a different God?
Now let's notice that Paul uses some all-encompassing phrases to the Thessalonians that are impossible to "limit" by the context:
Notice Paul's many uses of personal pronouns in this verse: "cause you," "even as we," "also for you," "establish your," " our God," and " our Lord." But lastly Paul says, "all HIS saints." Paul doesn't say "all the Thessalonian saints," or "all the gentile saints," or "all you saints," but rather, "all HIS saints." I don't see where that is a "contextual restriction" at all, and I don't believe anyone has the authority to make such a restriction.
But even if it is argued that "all His saints" can be limited by the context, let's prove to ourselves that the "context," that is, the passages that go before or after, in this very letter, not some other letter of Paul's, does indeed include JEWISH SAINTS in Judea, in ecclesias that didn't even know Paul.
Paul wrote this letter of encouragement to the grieving saints in Thessalonica concerning their loved ones who were put to repose. Does anyone believe that Paul would tell the grieving saints that their beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, in the churches of Judea, would, however, be excluded from those dead in Christ who are rising first? What kind of encouragement would that be for these saints who modeled and imitated the saints of Judea, to be told that they will not be among the dead roused at Christ's presence, when the purpose of this letter was to comfort them regarding their loved ones who went to repose in Christ?
Most expositors agree that encouragement to the Thessalonian grieving saints regarding those put to repose was the purpose of this letter. And if we insist on everything being "in context," then certainly the saints in the Judean ecclesias, I Thes. 2:14, are contextually included in " all the saints," 3:13, some of which were, "put to repose," 4:14, and "the dead in Christ shall be rising first" 4:16!
Also notice that this argument is based on, "implications" or "evidently." Bottom line: Does Daniel 12:12 actually mention a resurrection on the 1335th day? No it doesn't. Do these supporters of the rapture assume that there is a resurrection there anyway? Yes, they do. Does their own teaching tell us not to assume such a thing? Yes, it does, and I quote: "... but such a thing [assuming there is a resurrection implied even if it is not specifically stated], should NOT be assumed."
As to the statement that the gathering of Christ's elect in Matt 24 is only the living, I will suggest that it doesn't say living or dead. However, the word "elect" by itself certainly can include the dead, but I know of no law of grammar that could make the word "elect," exclude the dead. These references regarding the gathering of Christ's elect do no state specifically whether any of them are alive or dead. However, as Rev. 11:18 includes both the "small and great," and particularly "the prophets," and "the saints," it would have to include BOTH. The "prophets" have mostly died many centuries ago (yet they will be gathered here), and the "saints" include both dead and many saints who will be alive at Christ's coming. So clearly, both (the living and the dead), are included in the same event.
ANSWER: It is they who use the analogy of our rescue being compared to that of the pathway of a storm, or a locomotive, or a speeding car. Seriously, if your child is about to be swept away by a hurricane, crushed by a locomotive, or smashed by a speeding car, would you not consider this to be a situation that has within it, "the element of ALARM"!? I think so.
Were the Thessalonians at the time of this letter, going through severe trials, afflictions, sorrow, suffering, etc.? Yes they were,
Were they "appointed" to these sufferings and afflictions? Yes they were,
Are all the saints appointed to such suffering, persecution and affliction? Yes they are,
Did Paul then, by his letter, encourage them by informing them that God was about to TAKE AWAY all of these sufferings, persecutions and afflictions? No he did not.
Did the Thessalonians think, because of the severity of their trials, that they may already be in the "day of the Lord?" Possibly so, although it doesn't expressly state such. So how then does Paul in his second epistle to the Thessalonians "comfort" their anxiety?
It is merely a play on words to state: Paul would hardly write to relieve their minds by telling them that their assembling to Christ was to be part of the very series of events they feared were already underway.
Is this a reasonable argument? Does Paul inform the Thessalonians that all of their trials and sufferings will immediately come to an end, because "God has not appointed us to indignation"? No, he surely does not. Are not all of these Thessalonians to whom Paul wrote, now dead? When all these Thessalonian saints are resurrected with incorruptible, immortal, spiritual, celestial bodies, will they ever be troubled with suffering or afflictions again? No they will not. Whether the Thessalonians lived to see the return of Christ or whether they died before Christ's return, either way, they would be in trials till the very end, but they would not experience any of God's indignation. Then what sense is there to the above statement that Paul would hardly write to relieve them by telling them they would indeed live in trials and afflictions even prior to Christ's return?
Paul "relieves" them by confirming with them that their trials [trials now or in the future], are NOT a part of God's wrath or indignation that will come on the nations in the day of the Lord. Not only would Paul relieve their minds by telling them such a thing, but Paul actually did relieve their minds by telling them these things. Just telling someone that their trials are not a part of God's indignation does not make the trials go away!
Whether the Thessalonians lived until the second coming of our Lord or they died first, they would still suffer persecution and have trials and afflictions. But God did not appoint them to "indignation." This is not difficult. Paul told the Thessalonians that the trials that they were going through was not part of the day of Lord, nor was it part of God's indignation. They would not suffer a present indignation, or a future indignation--God did not appoint them to indignation. God did, however, appoint [locate] them to the trials, sufferings, and afflictions that they were going through (I Thes. 3:3). In Paul's second letter to them, they were still going through the same suffering and afflictions, which were in part,
Furthermore, we, today, have no promise that God will remove all of our trials, sufferings, and afflictions, even though I believe we can claim this same promise as did the Thessalonians, that, "God did not appoint us to indignation" (I Thes. 5:9). God gives us trials to help deem us worthy of the kingdom of God--this is a glorious thing! But never does God pour out His indignation for any reason upon believers. Remember our earlier definitions: do not confuse "trials and afflictions" with "wrath and indignation."
Paul soothes and calms the Thessalonians in their great afflictions and sorrows by immediately telling them in his second letter that they will be at
ANSWER: Does Dan. 12 and Matt. 24 indeed state that the living will be preceding the dead into resurrection by 75 days? Where? I could quote the entire chapter here, but there's absolutely no mention of any such thing. Not only doesn't Daniel 12 mention the living rising 75 days before the dead, but it doesn't even mention the gathering or vivification of the living at all. But it does mention the resurrection of the dead: "From those sleeping in the soil [deceased] of the ground many shall awake [resurrection], these to eonian life ..." (Dan. 12:2)! It speaks of the resurrection of the dead in the beginning of the chapter and that Daniel will stand up for his lot at the end of the days, but it doesn't say when Daniel will actually be resurrected. It just doesn't say.
Likewise, in Matt. 24:31 it doesn't state whether those gathered from the four winds at Christ's presence are the living or the dead, or both--it just doesn't say.
So their statement is not, "revelation of Scripture"! Their statements do not, "prove it"! If one does have "the faith and the spirit of sensibility" he will not be persuaded by such unscriptural statements. And, "If God graces you with light," you will not stubbornly hold on to the idea that, "... our message is a different event for a different ecclesia, and it is a message for those, regardless of personal worthiness, justice, or goodness, will be in the Lord's presence at the time appointed for them."
I might also add, that Dan. 12 does not make one statement with regards to those being resurrected, that it is the result of their being personally "worthy, just, or good." Much more on this theme of "worthiness" will follow.
THAT THERE MAY BE NO SCHISM IN THE BODY
The next few arguments used to promote the teaching of a rapture that excludes many of God's saints, is the real reason for my writing this paper. As I previously stated, this teaching of the rapture is not merely a technical theological argument on a minor point of faith. I believe it is paramount in its scope when we examine the "reasons" why rapturists believe there should be a separate resurrection for the gentile saints in the first place. I believe that these reasons are unwarranted, unscriptural, and divisive.
Again from the tape: The Presence of Christ in I Thes. 4:13-38:
ANSWER: Can anyone imagine telling the Apostle Peter that he is not gratuitously justified in God's grace, but is given only a revocable "pardon," and is therefore lacking and "INCOMPLETE" in Christ? In fact, imaging telling him that to his face, while he is being CRUCIFIED, UPSIDE DOWN, FOR HIS UNSHAKABLE FAITH, TRUST, AND LOVE FOR HIS SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST!
Show me a Scripture stating that the Jewish saints are " incomplete in Christ"!
Peter was "FILLED" with God's holy spirit (Acts 4:8)! Christ said,
John the baptist said that that which "fills [ Keyword Concordance p. 56, 'complete, See fill'] Him [Jesus Christ] we ALL OBTAINED" (Jn 1:17). Jesus said again,
Etc., etc., etc.
Does stating that Israel is, " merely pardoned," somehow relegate the word "pardon" to something inferior and undesirable? So much so that they are not even deserving to be in our resurrection?
Col. 1:13 tells us that,
"Pardon" is something Paul prized.
"Pardon" means "forgiveness." Keyword Concordance p. 216, ' pardon, by executive authority, forgiveness of offenses,' versus p.115, ' forgiveness, see pardon.'"
These are not words to be prefixed with the word "merely," but are powerful words of salvation! Both "pardon" and "forgiveness" are words used by Paul in reference to our calling as well as that of Israel, and are found in his highest revelation epistles (Ephesians and Colossians).
Notice that those who are, "merely pardoned" are contrasted with those who are, "justified gratuitously in God's grace," as though pardon and forgiveness for sins and offenses could somehow be acquired outside of God's gratuitous grace.
Much more on God's grace for Israel later, but for now let's just look at one simple Scripture. Before there was ever one Christian convert, John the baptist tells us,
Jesus Christ was armed with a whole arsenal of "grace and truth" before He ever "pardoned" the first Jewish sinner!
ANSWER: Is it true that we have no place in these things and that, we are NOT Israelites? Paul told the Roman ecclesia (Gentiles),
Paul clearly tells us that Jews who are circumcised in the flesh, but not in their hearts, are NOT JEWS! Who then are circumcised in heart and therefore are true JEWS? Let's read it:
Yes we are spiritual Jews!
We are the children of the promise, we are reckoned as the seed, we are SPIRITUAL ISRAEL.
WE are the true Israel of God! And it is WE who will rule the nations along with "ALL the saints" (I Thes. 3:13). Paul says,
Clearly God is not referring to the Israel of old, but "a new creation" (Ver. 15). And in this new creation context Paul says we are "they who ARE the Israel of God" (The Twentieth Century New Testament), "... on the TRUE Israel of God" (Williams Translation), "to the TRUE Israel of God" (Phillips Translation).
Now for one of the most profound Scriptures a rapturists will ever have to contemplate:
All believers are "baptized into Christ" (Rom. 6:3), yet Paul says,
Paul didn't have a big "baptizing ministry." So whoever are baptized, does not include very many from Paul's ministry, that's for sure. Baptism began with John the Baptism, and he baptized Jewish believers exclusively (in water--the Jordan), but it matters not "who" is baptized (whether Jew or Gentile), because,
because there is ONLY ONE BAPTISM (Eph. 4:5)!
Jews and Greeks alike are baptized into ONE BODY! Peter and Paul are not members of different bodies. There is only ONE BODY (Eph. 4:4). This is not hard.
There is only ONE body and it will be resurrected at THE resurrection (not two different bodies at two different resurrections).
This is as simple and as basic as it gets. These are simple, solid, Scripturally substantiated statements that anyone should be able to understand. The very same verse that tells us that there is ONE God, and ONE Father, and ONE Lord, also tells us that there is a "unity of the spirit" that we are to keep. And that there is only ONE body and ONE spirit, and ONE expectation, and ONE faith, and ONE baptism.
Does anyone see from these Scriptures that Christ is "divided"? I Cor. 1:13, "Is Christ divided?" Well, yes, rapturists would tell us that Christ IS divided. Rapturists would have us believe that Christ is so divided that the parts are barely recognizable from each other. Here are just a few ways that rapturists unscripturally divide up God's saints:
The paramount thing missing in substantiating these divisive teachings is, however, Scriptural proof!
SONSHIP, GLORY, COVENANTS, LEGISLATION, DIVINE SERVICE, and PROMISES
ANSWER: That these things were indeed given to Israel there is no doubt. That they have nothing to do with us, is, however, not true. Notice what things Paul lists in Romans chapter 9:
Is it true that we, the uncircumcision saints, "... don't have these things ..." as our rapturist friend states? Let's examine what the Scriptures written by Paul himself tell us concerning these very things:
Comment: If "sonship" is something for Israel only, why would Paul tell the Roman Gentiles that "... YOU got the spirit of SONSHIP"? And , "... WE are the children of God"?
"Sonship" has every bit at much to do with us Gentiles as it does with the saints of Israel!
Comment: "Glory" is not something exclusively for Jewish Saints only. So what is to be gained by denying these plain statements of Paul?
Comment: Do we Gentiles, likewise, have nothing to do with "Covenants"? Paul said that, "We are indeed [absolutely, to be sure] DISPENSERS of a new covenant."
Paul tell us that there was a time when we
So clearly, we are no longer "alienated" from the "promise covenants." "Fellow-citizens" of verse 19 definitely refers back to "the citizenship of Israel" in verse 12. No matter how badly some may not approve of this, nonetheless, it is absolutely true, we Gentiles are "fellow citizens" of the "citizenship of Israel" which now entitles us to be "guests of the promise covenants," having an "expectation," with God, being "reconciled into one body," etc., etc.
The giving of the law, of course, was given to Israel long before God called Paul to take the evangel to the nations. Israel, however, never comprehended the law as a spiritual entity. We, however, are to have the law (which is spiritual), internalized in our hearts, and in this way, we do have the "legislation" or giving of the new spiritual law:
We are not under the law, the curse of the law, or the death threat of the law. God has graced us to keep the spiritual intent of the law from our heart and spirit. This then produces a righteousness of God in us through His spirit working with our spirit.
Our service to God goes far deeper than the offering of animals as a sacrifice to God.
Paul said that by believing all that was written in the Old Testament law and the prophets he was actually offering " divine service" to God (Acts 24:14-15). Also Acts 27:23.
See if we can believe this verse regarding "Gentiles."
Did you get that? We Gentiles who are being told that, we don't have those things that Paul mentions in Rom. 9:4-5. We supposedly have nothing to do with "divine service." Yet Paul plainly tells us in this verse, that "in spirit," "we," uncircumcised Gentiles, we, " ARE the circumcision"! Now I realize that there is enough material in this verse for a whole book, but suffice it to say, that this verse is true, it is the Word of God, Paul spoke it--WE ARE THE CIRCUMCISION OF GOD!
WE are the true Jew and WE are the true circumcision, and yes, WE thus offer "divine service" to God also.
The Apostle Paul began teaching the promises of God from the very beginning of his ministry.
Is it even necessary that I state that this same promised seed is also OUR Savior as well as Israel's?
This promise had to do with Paul's expectation of being raised from the dead and given an allotment in the Kingdom of God along with "ALL the Saints" (I Thes. 3:13).
The "promises" were first to Abraham, whose seed was to bless the whole world, and whose children we (gentile believers) are.
We were told that, And when we see that there are the promises, indeed made to Israel and that these things belong to them, as Paul says so clearly in Romans chapter 9, and verses 4-5, and yet WE DON'T HAVE THOSE THINGS [sonship, glory, covenants, legislation, divine service, and promises] then we can see that we don't belong in Matt. 24 as to any expectation concerning us. (Emphasis mine). We absolutely do have these things.
Let me just ask you, "How do you feel about your prospects and your expectation regarding, sonship, glory, covenants, legislation (the law), divine service, and the promises now that I have quoted you several verses regarding them from the pen of Paul?" Does anyone still believe "we don't have those things"? Good!
ANSWER: Is there a Scripture that says if the Jewish saints are found "drowsing," that they will not be living together at the same time with Christ?
ANSWER: Is there a Scripture that says that the Jewish saints are appointed to indignation? Will the Jewish saints not be procuring salvation through Jesus Christ?
ANSWER: As this argument comes up again in a few sentences, I will comment only briefly here. I do not know of a single Scripture that states that it is "essential" that a saint in Israel will only be saved by "merit or works or endurance." Some who "endure," indeed, are saved. But nowhere does it say that if they had not endured, they would not have been saved.
Besides, it is God Who will give them endurance.
ANSWER: The expositor continues to say that this resurrection of Acts 24:15, the resurrection of the just, is not the resurrection that Paul and the Gentile saints will be in.
What proof is there for suggesting such a thing? Well, if being in a resurrection of the "just" is something that does not pertain to us Gentile saints, is this writer suggesting then that we will be roused in the resurrection of the "Unjust"? The "resurrection of the just" is not some inferior or undesirable resurrection. It is the resurrection of the unjust that we want to avoid, not the resurrection of the just!
Let's look at this resurrection of "the just" in its context. First we notice that Paul made this statement near the end of his ministry--eleven chapters after he made the statement,
Paul is not speaking to Jews in a synagogue, but to Festus the governor. Paul is "avowing" the validity of his statements (Acts 24:14). Follow Paul's words very carefully:
This is not hard to understand: Paul says, " I am avowing ... thus am I offering divine service ... [ I am ] believing all that is written ... [ I am ] having an EXPECTATION in God, which these themselves ALSO ARE ANTICIPATING that there shall be a resurrection which is impending for both the JUST and the UNJUST."
The "anticipating" of the expectation of these Jews was the SAME expectation that Paul had, and it concerned the resurrection of "the JUST." How can one contend that the expectation and resurrection that Paul speaks of is for the Jewish saints only? Paul plainly says that this same expectation and resurrection of Israel, spoken of in the law and the prophets was his expectation also.
Notice the words "... these themselves ALSO ..." Now, now think for a moment think. If these themselves [Paul's Jewish detractors] "ALSO" are anticipating this resurrection of the just, who, pray tell, is believing these Scriptures that the Jews "also" believe? The only other one here claiming to "also" believe this teaching is Paul. If this resurrection of the just contained in the Hebrew law and prophets is exclusively for the Jewish saints, then how could Paul claim it for his expectation if he is also to be in a secret rapture resurrection of the Gentile saints which supposedly occurs much earlier?. Paul is not going to be resurrected twice in two different resurrections.
Notice Webster's Dictionary: also, adv., in addition; likewise; too.
Clearly, for something to be "also," "in addition to," "likewise," and "too," there must be more than one entity! If the Jew only had this expectation of the resurrection of the just, then Paul could not use the adjective "also" in describing who believed this doctrine. These things may be slightly technical, but they certain are not difficult to understand.
Paul is not speaking here of a "secret resurrection," or a "secret rapture" that excludes the saints of Israel. This resurrection of which Paul speaks is founded in the "law and in the prophets." It is the same resurrection of two classes of people of whom Daniel speaks
Paul has his expectation in this resurrection of the just that even his Jewish accusers "are also anticipating." This is not a different "expectation" in a different "resurrection" for Paul than the one he outlined for the Thessalonians many years earlier. There are ONLY TWO categories of people to be resurrected--one for the "just" and one for the "unjust." That's it.
Notice verse 21:
Why, pray tell, would Paul be teaching and preaching about "the resurrection of the dead," and the resurrection of "the just," if he knew that he and his Gentile followers had nothing to do with this (supposed Jewish) resurrection and that what they really believed was that they would be resurrected in a different resurrection, a secret rapture resurrection? But no, Paul said that his expectation was in God for this resurrection of the just which would also include the Jewish saints.
Because of its importance, I am going to say it one more time. Paul would not be telling Felix about a "Jewish" resurrection of "the just," if he had been teaching the Gentiles for decades about another different secret resurrection and expectation which excluded the Jewish saints. Paul believed he would be roused from the dead in the same resurrection that Israel of old believed in. Paul's expectation was clearly rooted and grounded in the Hebrew Scriptures. He taught the Thessalonians on three Sabbaths from the Hebrew Scriptures (the only Scriptures there were--Acts 17:2).
Which "expectation" is Paul talking about? It is the expectation of being resurrected from the dead, "Concerning the resurrection of the dead am I being judged today by you" (Acts 24:21). And who were the only two groups mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures regarding the resurrection of the dead? "... there shall be a resurrection which is impending for both the JUST and the UNJUST" (Acts 24:15). Now we have two choices and two choices only (seeing that the Hebrew Scriptures and Paul himself, contend for only two), either Paul's expectation was in a resurrection of the JUST or his expectation was in a resurrection of the UNJUST. Do any of my readers seriously believe that Paul's expectation was in a resurrection of the UNJUST? Then his expectation was clearly in the resurrection of the JUST. And Paul tells us that this same resurrection of the just is what the twelve-tribed people are also "... expecting to attain." (Acts 26:;7).
And Paul surely did not teach the Thessalonians of a different, secret resurrection. Paul included himself in the Thessalonians resurrection,
It was not a secret rapture (something the "twelve-tribed people," "the Jews," "Israel," or the Hebrew Scriptures themselves knew nothing about) that Paul was being judged for. After Paul explains in three chapters (Acts 24, 25, & 26), which Jewish, Old Testament, Hebrew, resurrection and expectation he meant. He then says, "Concerning which expectation [the same one he described in these three chapters] I am being indicted by Jews, O king!"
I marvel that anyone could not see which expectation and resurrection Paul is talking about in these three chapters of Acts. Paul mentions over and over again that it is the same expectation as the "Jews," the "twelve-tribed people," the promise in the Hebrew "law and the prophets," and the "resurrection of the just." This, this expectation (and not another) is what Paul is defending in front of Felix, Festus, and King Agrippa.
Paul never even hinted at a totally different expectation and secret resurrection for a totally different group of saints and believers, at a totally different time and occasion, and yet ... yet, Paul's confrontation with King Agrippa was years after he wrote to the Thessalonians regarding their expectation and resurrection. This is devastating to the rapture theory. Years AFTER Paul wrote the Thessalonians he still believed in the same expectation and resurrection as did the Jewish saints contained in the Hebrew Scriptures! Paul never came to believe in a secret rapture!
I know it must be a bitter pill to swallow for those who have spent decades studying the Scriptures in their original languages and yet find themselves victim to silly, unscriptural, wives tales, nowhere to be found in the inspired Word of God, but rather are promulgated by the ungodly pillars of apostasy under the banner of Christendom. We need to be ever mindful that unscriptural doctrines are not of faith, and "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin"
DROWSERS ARE NOT LOCKED OUT OF THE KINGDOM
ANSWER: First the drowsy part then we will cover the personal character traits in the next answer. Does Paul indeed tell us that if we drowse at Christ's coming it "is no factor," while Matthew tells us that those who drowse with be "locked out of the kingdom"?
When Paul says in I Thes. 5:10,
He is not speaking of literally watching or literally taking a spiritual nap as the expositor words it, but rather if we are "living or reposing [sleeping]." The Scriptures speak of death as "sleep" dozens of times.
Paul is merely mirroring the words of his Lord. The woman in Matt. 9:18 had died (ver. 18) yet Jesus said she was "drowsing" (ver. 24). Paul said:
Those who do drowse, Paul says drowse at night. Since we are not of the night or darkness, we should not drowse. Those who are not watchful concerning the things of the Lord are like drunks who drink and sleep off their drunkenness at night. That's the spiritual application. However, even though we do not follow after those who get drunk and drowse in the night, many of us will "drowse" in the earth (be dead) when our Lord comes, but not to worry--whether we are alive and being about our Lord's business, or reposing (drowsing/sleeping) in our graves, we will still be together with Him when He comes.
"Watching or drowsing" is in answer to those either "living or reposing [sleeping, dead]" in chapter 4 verse 15. Either way, whether alive or dead, they will be snatched away to meet the Lord. To try and use these clear verses to prove that Israel must spiritually stay awake or they will be locked out of the Kingdom of God, but with us it is perfectly okay to be spiritually asleep and still be in God's kingdom is totally out of context.
Besides, Paul just stated in Chapter 5, verse 6, that,
Again in Acts 20:31, Paul admonishes his disciples to " watch." In I Cor. 16:13, Paul commands " Watch"! Colossians 4:2, "In prayer be persevering, watching ..."
Now, were does it say those in Matt. 25 "locked out of the kingdom and prevented from entering in" are locked out as the result of their "drowsing"? Our Lord said no such thing. Let's read this parable together:
Say, did you notice that: "they ALL nod and drowsed"?
This parable has nothing to do with literal "virgins, oil, or torches." Nonetheless, the point is that "all of the virgins drowsed," but contrary to our expositor's argument, NONE of them were locked out of the wedding festivities because of drowsing. The five that were locked out, were locked out because they were "STUPID" and didn't buy any oil!
Christ does, however, admonish to "Watch ..." (Ver. 13). But we have already seen the proof right in this Scripture, that not watching, but "drowsing," is not grounds, in and by itself, for our Lord to lock someone out of the kingdom, even if they are Jewish saints! The five prudent virgins did drowse, but were not locked out.
ANSWER: When we couple this argument with the one stated above we have the following qualities of character that are said to be necessary in order for a Jewish saint to be in the resurrection of the just:
First: Are these traits of character really a means of earning salvation in the community of Jewish saints? Second: Does Paul on the other hand shun these character traits as Jewish qualifications for salvation which we Gentiles would want to stand aloof from? That certainly is the way this expositor presents these traits of character and discipline.
I will now present a short Scriptural analysis of these seven character traits. I believe the results will shock most of my readers as well as the above expositors. The truth of the matter is that Paul extols these seven qualities of character, more than do all of the circumcision writers COMBINED!
1. Paul's admonition on being JUST:
And, although, cited in the book of Matthew, it is the Gentile nations who receive eonian life partly because they are "just."
Interestingly, although the circumcision writings contain statements about men who were "just," there are no direct commands (as seen in Paul's epistles above) to be just, do just, or even think just.
2. Paul's teaching on OBEDIENCE:
Strange that our rapturists friends place so much emphasis on things like "obedience" as if the Jewish saints virtually qualified for their own salvation through their own obedience, when in reality it is PAUL who has the most to say about "obedience" for believers. Check the Greek-English Keyword Concordance under "obedience" and you will find only one reference to being obedient in all of the circumcision writings combined-- I Pet. 1:14,22!
3. What Paul has to say about being FAITHFUL:
Can anyone read all these Scriptures and not believe that Paul taught and believed in being FAITHFUL?
4. Paul's teaching on being WORTHY:
Surely, in the light of the above expositors teaching regarding Israel having to "be worthy" in order to be saved, we should not expect to find even a single reference to being worthy in Paul's writings. The facts are, that the Apostle Paul has TWICE as much to say regarding "worthiness" as all of the circumcision writers combined! Amazing.
5. What Paul has to say about QUALIFYING:
There is but one Scripture on "qualifying" in all of the circumcision writings--James 1:12.
The word "testedness" [Greek: dokime]is also translated from the same Greek root [ dokim] translated "qualify."
Paul's use of TESTEDNESS:
Say, did you notice that word "obedient" in there? I though we were told that "obedience" has to do with Israel, not Gentile saints? Yet, Paul tells us that he knew if the Corinthians were obedient or not by their being tested!
Even though this is a "dispensation of testedness" and qualifying, and being accounted worthy, through endurance, and faithfulness and the like, all of it combined is, nonetheless,
But to suggest (or dogmatically teach) that these things are NOT for us, but for Israel ONLY, is totally unscriptural.
Comment: Although we are told that it is the Jewish saints that need to "qualify," and "endure," and prove themselves "worthy," etc., etc., the circumcision writers say nothing with regards to the word "testedness," whereas the Apostle Paul does.
6. What Paul teaches regarding being or doing GOOD:
By now, I guess it will not shock my readers if I should divulge the fact that Paul has TWICE as much to say about being or doing "good" than all of the circumcision writers combined!
7. Paul has a great deal to say about ENDURING:
I don't believe these Scriptures need a lot of comment. They speak for themselves.
Back to our expositor's comment that for us, ... there is NOT a matter of in any sense, merit, or works, or endurance, being ESSENTIAL in our salvation, and that is NOT the case in Israel. (Emphasis mine).
First of all, you will search the Scriptures in vain to find a statement that saints in Israel are saved by merit, works, endurance, or by being just, obedient, faithful, worthy, qualified, good, or enduring. These are admirable traits of character, they are not the direct cause of anyone's salvation. To say that these things are "essential" to the salvation of Jewish saints, but that these traits of character are "not essential' for Gentile saints is both untrue and unscriptural. These are traits that God desires and therefore produces in His saints by various means, irrespective of who these saints are or when they lived. King David possessed these traits of character and so did Paul. Why cause divisions and schisms where they don't and shouldn't exist in the first place?
Secondly, the truth of these things is not hard to find with a good translation and concordance. Anyone can plainly see that Paul put more emphasis on, and spoke more often of, these seven character traits than all of the circumcision writers COMBINED! If my readers learn nothing more than to check all the statements of expositors thoroughly against the Scriptures, then much will have been accomplished by this paper.
Do not the Scriptures tell us exactly how God saves all saints?
Does not Paul tell us plainly in one sentence exactly how God saves saints?
Does not Peter tell us plainly in one sentence exactly how God Saves saints?
We shall see ...
ANSWER: Let's be clear from the start here that it is not the advocates of only one second coming that are in any way suggesting that this is the absolute last trumpet to ever be blown. Who has ever suggested such a thing? And what would it prove? However, it is the Apostle Paul, himself, that plainly tells us that this is "the LAST trump" (I Cor. 15:52). Argue with Paul about the fact that this is not absolutely the "last trump." Paul said it, not I.
And absolutely Paul uses this expression in association with the day of the Lord. In I Thes. 4:16 Paul says that Christ will return "with the trumpet of God." In I Cor. 15:52 Paul tells us that Christ will return "at the last trump." And Paul associates Christ coming with "the day of the Lord" (I Thes. 5:2). "The day of the Lord" (II Thes. 2:2). The Thessalonians receive "rest and ease," along with Paul, "at the unveiling of the Lord Jesus" (II Thes. 1:7).
It is the unveiling that ushers in the day of the Lord. Likewise, the same resurrection mentioned in I Cor. 15:51-52 will take place, "in the DAY OF OUR LORD" (I Cor. 1:8). I have already conclusive proven that "the day" and "the day of the Lord:" of I Thes. Chapter 5 are one and the same day (See again argument #4).
At Christ's second coming He gathers His elect and sets up His kingdom. Twice Paul tells us that the elect will be gathered at the sound of a trumpet (I Thes. 4:16), at the last trump (I Cor. 15:52), and it is then when the saints (ALL the saints, I Thes.3:13) will receive their "rest and ease" from the trials and sorrows of this life, and Paul plainly says that this will occur: "... AT the unveiling of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful messengers, in flaming fire, dealing out vengeance to those who are not acquainted with God and those who are not obeying the evangel of our Lord Jesus Christ--who shall incur the justice of eonian extermination from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of His strength--whenever He may be coming to be glorified in HIS SAINTS and to be marveled at in ALL WHO BELIEVE (seeing that our testimony to you was believed) IN THAT DAY"
Now this is not hard to follow. The above is Paul's description of how Christ will return for "all who believe." He comes in power and glory and is dealing out vengeance to the ungodly and is being glorified in His saints. This same description of His second coming is found in Rev 11:15-18, "... And loud voices occurred in heaven, saying, 'The kingdom of this world became our Lord's and His Christ's and He shall be reigning for the eons of the eons. Amen!'... Thou hast taken Thy great power and does reign. And the nations are angered, and Thy indignation came, and the era for the dead to be judged, and to give their wages to thy slaves, the prophets, and to the SAINTS and to those fearing Thy name, the small and the great ..." And when does this occur? Verse 1: "And the seventh messenger trumpets."!
Why would Paul tell us that Christ will return at "the last trump" if neither he nor any other writer of Scripture is to tell us what trumpets go before this last trump? If Paul is not associating his statement of a last trump with that of Revelation chapter 11, then what pray tell are the trumpets that go before this last trump. Also consider this: If Paul is speaking of a secret rapture in I Thess. 4, one that does not involve the rest of the world in any way, why would this rapture be accompanied by: "a SHOUT of command," with "the VOICE of the chief messenger," and with "the TRUMPET of God"? These things would certainly blow any chance of this event being a secret.
Remember there are only seven trumpets mentioned, so the seventh trumpet IS "the LAST trump." Seriously now, how many events in the Bible are said to be ushered in by the sounding of the "LAST" of a series of trumpets? Only one--the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. How then is it possible to believe that two Scriptures referring to the "last trump," both of which usher in the second coming of our Lord, could be different events that take place at different times?
ARGUMENTS FROM THE BOOKLET: CONSOLATION IN EXPECTATION
In the booklet: Consolation in Expectation, the author uses considerable space trying to show that Paul had two different messages (gospels?) for the Jews of the dispersion and the Gentiles. If this can be proved, supposedly, it would lend credence to the theory of the rapture--a separate and different resurrection for the Gentiles from that of the saints of Israel. If we could only realize in advance the trouble we get ourselves into when we try to prove a personal pet doctrine by starting off with a false premise.
ANSWER: The author assumes that Paul did not stay with the Thessalonians much more than three weeks because in Acts 17:2 it is stated that Paul argues with them in the synagogue of the Jews on three Sabbaths. It is only an assumption that this statement limits Paul's stay in Thessalonica to only three weeks. The Scriptural evidence suggests that he may have stayed for as long as three to six months. Paul would have hardly been so destitute that in a short three-week stay he would have to take up his trade of making tent cloths in order to support his expenses. Notice I Thes. 2:9, "For you remember, brethren, our toil and labor: working night and day so as not to be burdensome to any of you, we herald to you the evangel of God." (And I think it goes without saying, that Paul never taught nor did he collect "tithes" from any of the churches).
Had Paul only taught for only three weeks, and then only in the synagogue of the Jews, it is not likely that in the synagogue alone he would have been allotted,
In addition to laboring at his tent-making trade, Paul also received contributions from the Philippians at the very time he was in Thessalonica:
Does anyone seriously believe that Paul had to receive not just one, but two gifts from the Philippians if he only stayed three weeks in Thessalonica? PLUS he had to work with his own hands.
I am sure that after only three Sabbaths, the Jews had enough of Paul. He was probably then confined to teaching at other locations such as Jason's house (Acts 17:6).
The author contends that Paul, "... had not many opportunities to teach those among the nations ..." It is obvious that Paul had a great deal of opportunity to teach those among the nations, which resulted in a "vast multitude of the reverent Greeks, and of the foremost women not a few." It is stated that, "Had he done so, his revelations concerning the future would not have been at all agreeable to the Jews ..." "Had he done so ..."? The Scriptures plainly tell us that he DID so, and yes, his message was not at all agreeable with the Jews. But their rejection of Paul's message was not due to any "repudiation of the Jews" as is stated. Where in the epistles of Thessalonians did Paul "repudiate" the Jews?
Notice Acts 17:5-9),
Paul clearly did so, and here we have the result plainly recorded.
Last statement: "... for this epistle practically involves the repudiation of Israel." The truth is neither Paul nor the Thessalonians were "repudiating" Israel. To the contrary, the Scriptures do tell us that the Thessalonians were "imitating" "... the churches of God which are IN JUDEA [Israel] in Christ Jesus" (I Thes. 2:14).
ANSWER: Wow, that is quite a statement, but is there anything in the Scriptures to substantiate such a thing? First let's be clear as to what Paul's source material was when he taught the Thessalonians which produced, "... a VAST MULTITUDE of the reverent Greeks, and of the foremost women NOT A FEW." ACTS. 17:2, "Now, as was Paul's custom, he entered to them, and on three Sabbaths he argues with them from THE SCRIPTURES ..." Since there were few Greek Scriptures at this time, Paul clearly was teaching from the Hebrew old testament Scriptures which included the Prophets.
ANSWER: Let us now go to the book of Acts, where supposedly we will find nothing regarding the return of Christ, the resurrection, and Paul's expectation of these things. Acts 24:14-15, "Yet I am avowing this to you, that, according to the way which they are terming a sect, thus am I offering divine service to the hereditary God, believing all that is written, according to the law and in the prophets, having an expectation in God, which these themselves also are anticipating, that there shall be a resurrection which is impending for both the just and the unjust."
Paul believed in a resurrection of the "just and the unjust." Paul had an "expectation" to be in the resurrection of the just (there are only two, either the just or the unjust--does anyone believe that Paul thought he would be in the resurrection of the UNjust?) Even the Jews who were persecuting Paul were anticipating this same expectation. The resurrection of the just occurs at the presence or coming of our Lord--no other time. And Paul clearly states that these teachings are not "... quite UNKNOWN to the prophets of old ..." but rather his teaching are "... ACCORDING TO THE LAW AND IN THE PROPHETS ..." (Acts 24:15)! And, all this is recorded where it is supposedly, "... beyond the theme of that treatise ..." in the book of ACTS.
Now a double witness as to what was Paul's expectation and where he got it: "And now, in EXPECTATION of the promise which came by God TO OUR FATHERS, I stand being judged" (Acts 26:6). It clearly was NOT a new, heretofore unknown, secret expectation. It was the same expectation, "... WHICH CAME BY GOD TO OUR FATHERS ..." Is it only Paul and the Gentiles that know of and are expecting to attain this resurrection? Let's read it: "... to which our TWELVE-TRIBED PEOPLE [that's ISRAEL], earnestly offering diving service night and day, is EXPECTING TO ATTAIN" (Ver. 7)!
Is it true that this future coming of our Lord was unknown "... to the disciples of our Lord on earth." In order to maintain the teaching that there are two administrations, to two different peoples, being given two different gospels, anticipating two different expectations, at two differing comings of our Lord, etc., etc., it must be accepted that the disciples of our Lord did not even know of this secret expectation-resurrection-rapture. Was Peter, for example, anticipating a different coming and resurrection than that of the apostle Paul? Was Peter in the dark concerning the coming of our Lord? Were Peter and Paul at two different poles regarding the second coming of our Lord? Hang on to your hats as we are going to Scripturally blow the lid off of such teachings. Let us now go to Peter's epistles to and see whether Peter and Paul really taught two different comings of our Lord at two different times for two different sets of divided saints.
QUOTES FROM PETER'S TEACHING ON CHRIST'S RETURN
I Peter 1:2-4, "May grace and peace be multiplied to you! Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ [did I say Peter? This almost sounds like PAUL doesn't it?], Who, according to His vast mercy, regenerates us into a living EXPECTATION, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from among the dead, for the enjoyment of an ALLOTMENT incorruptible and undefiled and unfading, KEPT IN THE HEAVENS FOR YOU ..." [This sounds like Paul, doesn't it]? Continuing:
Clearly the apostle Peter had a great deal to say about Christ's coming, the kingdom of God, eonian life, expectation, the unveiling of Jesus Christ, etc., in just two short letters. It is not hard to see this theme in Peter's letters. Next we will see how the apostle Paul likewise uses these same words and phrases in his many epistles describing the return of Jesus Christ:
Then we will see whether these two sets of Scriptures are speaking of two DIFFERENT events and two different times.
QUOTES FROM PAUL'S TEACHING ON CHRIST'S RETURN
It is difficult for me to comprehend that we are being asked to believe that the two sets of quotations above from Peter's and Paul's epistles represent: TWO different peoples, TWO different expectations, TWO difference comings of our Lord at two different times, TWO different resurrections, TWO different bodies, TWO different rewards, TWO different locations, and TWO different glories!
Let me call your attention to the fact that although the above quotations sometimes differ slightly in terminology, they DO NOT, however, CONTRADICT! Peter and Paul are both speaking of the SAME event.
Is there scriptural proof that Peter and Paul are speaking of the same, one, event? YES THERE IS! There is in fact a few remarkable verses in II Peter that I don't believe many have carefully read or understood.
Interestingly, Peter mentions some aspect of Christ's return far more often than Paul does, considering that we have but two of Peter's epistles and thirteen of Paul's epistles. So the theme of Christ's return is intense in Peter's epistles (making some mention of it twenty times in just 13 pages)! Now for some amazing verses.
In I Peter 5:12 we read:
This is the SAME grace of God that Paul spoke of. Peter was not speaking of a different gospel with different qualifications for salvation. But notice through whom this letter is written: "Through SILVANUS ..." Greek-English Keyword Concordance p. 270, Silvanus, otherwise called Silas, in Acts.
Silvanus was Paul's traveling companion. I Thes. 1:1, "Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the ecclesia of the Thessalonians ..." II Thes. 1:1, "Paul and Silvanus ..." Acts 15:40, "Now Paul, singling out Silas, came away ..." Acts 16:25, "Now at midnight Paul and Silas were praying ..." Etc. Why would Paul's traveling companion, Silvanus, be soliciting Peter to be writing letters with a primary theme of the return of Christ, to the brethren, "... of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bithynia ..."?
Notice who it was who evangelized these areas:
CAPPADOCIA is a district of eastern Asia Minor, south of Galatia and Pontus, East of Lycaonia, also being in the area where Paul taught. Epanetus, Paul's beloved, "... who is the firstfruit of the province of ASIA for Christ" (Rom. 16:5).
In Acts 16:7 it is stated that on this journey Paul tried to go to BITHYNIA, but Jesus disallowed it. Paul was also forbidden to speak in the province of Asia at this time, but we know he reached Asia at a later date.
The point is that these cities were areas where Paul did his evangelizing. And now Silvanus (Paul's traveling companion) is having Peter write to churches in the areas that Paul evangelized. Mystery of mysteries, what is going on here? This absolutely could not be happening if Peter and Paul had two very distinct gospels. That would only add confusion to the churches. It matters little whether these churches were all Jews, all Gentiles, or a combination of both. The facts will show that Peter and Paul were both teaching the same things concerning the second coming of Christ.
Without getting into forty pages of debate over who these people in these churches really were, let me just say there is evidence to support the view that they were Jews and the view that they were Gentiles.
The introduction says, "... to the chosen expatriates of the dispersion ..." This seems to be evidence that they were Jews. However, some scholars show that "expatriates" could also refer to displaced Gentiles.
Notice I Peter. 2:9-10,
This sounds more like Gentiles. In speaking of the many evils of the nations, Peter says,
If these were Jewish people, this could hardly be said of them by their countrymen.
So maybe these churches were a mixture of both Jews and Gentiles. It will not significantly effect our argument either way.
We have already shown that Peter mentions some aspect of the return of Christ twenty times in just 13 pages. In the last chapter of his second epistle he states that,
Obviously these churches were having some problems regarding their very expectation and the second coming of our Lord. Peter gives them many words of encouragement in these two epistles.
Are Peter's words different or contradictory to Paul's words regarding Christ's second coming. Let us now see the proof that they BOTH TAUGHT THE SAME SECOND COMING AND SAME RESURRECTION TO BOTH THE JEWS AND GENTILES.
Comment: What things? Well certainly the twenty references to Christ's return.
Comment: What they were calling the Lord's delay or failure to return, Peter calls "patience" of our Lord. And this patience was for their salvation.
Comment: What a dilemma for the rapturists. If these churches were founded by Paul, WHY IS PETER WRITING TO THEM? And if these churches were founded by Peter, WHY IS PAUL WRITING TO THEM? If, according to our rapturists friends, there was one gospel message for the Jews, and another gospel for the Gentiles, how is it that we have both PETER AND PAUL BRINGING THE GOSPEL TO THESE CHURCHES IN THEIR RESPECTIVE EPISTLES?
In the earlier pages of this paper we saw the many arguments regarding the supposed differences in the way the Jews received salvation and the way Paul taught salvation to the Gentiles. We also saw that those differences were imaginary. Peter says in I Peter 5:12,
Peter says concerning his teaching in this epistle, "THIS IS" the true grace of God. There is no contradiction between Peter and Paul here!
Now, let us get down to the specific things that Paul wrote to these churches.
Comment: These churches (even if we demand that they were Jewish churches started by Peter himself) had ALL OF PAUL'S EPISTLES! This is a remarkable section of Scripture!
If these churches had already received Peter's gospel, why would they want to hear Paul's gospel? These are questions that demand answers if it is taught that Christ's coming for the Jewish saints and Gentiles saints are, in fact, TWO DIFFERENT EVENTS!
The fact that Paul referred at times to "MY gospel" does not negate the fact that he also referred to it as "THE gospel" as well. There is ONE gospel. Peter and Paul both taught the ONE gospel whether they were teaching Jews, or whether they were teaching Gentiles, or whether they were teaching Jews and Gentiles simultaneously!
Comment: What things? All the twenty some verses regarding the coming of the Lord and the fulfillment of their hopes and expectations! Now let's settle the matter right here and now:
PETER has just written two epistles to these churches mentioning the coming of our Lord and the fulfillment of our expectation TWENTY SOME TIMES! We just read that PAUL ALSO HAS WRITTEN TO THEM IN ALL HIS EPISTLES CONCERNING " THESE THINGS" (Ver. 16). THESE ARE THE "SAME THINGS," WRITTEN BY THE SAME TWO APOSTLES, TO THE SAME CHURCHES (regardless as to whether they were Jews, Gentiles, or both)! Peter AND Paul taught the SAME THINGS REGARDING THE SECOND COMING OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST. THESE IS NO SECRET RAPTURE!
Now listen to Peter's appraisal of this whole matter regarding Paul's epistles speaking about the same things that his epistles speak of:
Comment: Notice Peter didn't say they couldn't be understood, but rather that they were hard to apprehend. But, PETER FOR ONE, CERTAINLY DID APPREHEND THEM!
Peter studied ALL OF PAUL'S EPISTLES, and he understood them. But what does he say about those who do NOT apprehend Paul's epistles?
Comment: Peter tells us that those who cannot apprehend Paul's deeper teachings are UNLEARNED and UNSTABLE, and therefore, they TWIST these Scriptures to suit their own interpretations. And, not only do they twist these hard to apprehend Scriptures, but Peter says that they are, "... TWISTING ... THE REST OF THE SCRIPTURES ALSO ..."!
And that my friend is the truth of it. Once one "twists" one Scripture to suit one's personal interpretation, if often involves the twisting of MANY other Scriptures as well.
Let us conclude by reading the remaining words of Peter in verses 17 and 18 regarding this marvelous revelation of the oneness of the teachings of Peter and Paul:
Even here we notice that Peter isn't talking about growing in our capacity to keep the law better or any such nonsense, but rather to be "growing in the GRACE and in KNOWLEDGE of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
Peter and Paul taught precisely the same formula for salvation. One did not teach grace and the other works. There is NO DIFFERENCE in their teaching regarding how someone is actually saved.
ALL PEOPLES ARE SAVED BY THE SAME FORMULA
About thirty pages back we heard how Israel is NOT COMPLETE in Christ, and only PARDONED, not justified, and that they must MERIT, and have WORKS, and ENDURANCE to be saved. Of course, we found no Scripture stating such a thing. But now I want to remove any doubt that one might have regarding there being differences in the way, formula, manner, or whatever one wants to call it, in which the circumcision saints are saved and in which the uncircumcision saints are saved.
PAUL'S FORMULA FOR SALVATION
Here is probably the most simple and yet comprehensive statement in Paul's writings regarding the formula and manner of one's salvation:
From all we have heard from our rapturists friends, we could suppose that Peter's formula for being saved would have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in common with what Paul has taught us in Ephesians. Is that true? Hardly. Does Peter anywhere give us a formula as to how the circumcision saints are to be saved?
HERE IS PETER'S FORMULA FOR SALVATION
Here is Peter telling Paul how they teach that the Jewish and Gentile saints are to be saved:
Capitalized, italicized, and underlined--I can't say it any stronger in the printed word without a microphone. Here Peter gives us the formula, if you will, for how they understood and taught salvation. Peter ASSURES us that it does NOT involve WORKS or LAW KEEPING.
This is the very SAME formula that Paul gives us in Ephesians. And to remove ALL DOUBT, Peter adds, "... EVEN AS THEY." Absolutely NO difference-- "even AS they. "How can anyone contradict or argue with this plain, simple, profound, statement of Scripture? And again, as Peter wrote in I Peter 5:12, "... this is the TRUE GRACE OF GOD, in which you are to stand."
Paul tells us in I Thes. 3:12-13,
Zechariah (a prophet for the Jews) tells us the very same words in 14:7,
Therefore, we have scriptural proof that there is not a secret rapture whereby only PART of all the saints are gathered.
I know that these same men who contend for a secret rapture would strongly object to any who would teach that Rom. 5:18-19 makes TWO different groups out of "ALL mankind for condemnation" and "ALL mankind for life's justifying." We KNOW that the group that is "condemned" is also the SAME group that is "justified." Why then make two different groups out of the identical phrases "ALL His saints" and "ALL His saints?"
It is obvious that someone was discouraging these churches claiming that Christ had failed to return in a manner as they had expected. (II Pet. 3:3-4). If this was at the time that Paul was under arrest in Rome, possibly he had no opportunity to get these words of comfort to these churches. So Silanus, in his concern for them, looks for someone of real authority to comfort them.
Whether we approve or not, PETER is the logical choice of Silvanus. And it matters not whether these churches were established by Peter OR Paul, because Peter not only writes his own words of comfort to these churches but at the same time fully establishes that all of Paul's epistles which Paul "writes to YOU" (II Pet. 3-15), were in FULL AGREEMENT with all "these things" (Ver. 14) that Peter is now telling them.
So there is a real problem with the theology in Consolation in Expectation page 14 when it states, "Even the Circumcision apostles, in their later ministries, give NO HINT of the glorious event which Paul is about to foretell." Contrariwise, we just read in Peter's epistles about the SAME events in the same manner as Paul wrote about "THESE things" in "ALL the epistles" that "Paul ALSO writes to YOU." These churches were ALREADY very familiar with Paul's teachings on Christ's glorious return, and now Peter CONFIRMS these teachings by reiterating them in his own penned epistles.
THE SAINTS UNDER PETER'S AND PAUL'S CARE WERE NEVER DIVIDED
ANSWER: Where is the "wedge" that "eventually SPLIT THEM WIDE APART?" Where does the Scriptures speak of such a wedge and such a splitting apart? I know of no such Scripture, and the above expositor failed to cite even one. But we do read this regarding the disciples and Paul:
Inspiring Scriptures indeed! This is probably the largest and most formal gathering of the leaders of the true ecclesia of God in the history of the church. We have present, Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and Judas, Peter, James, the apostles, the elders, and the WHOLE CHURCH. The major issues of the law, works, grace, faith, the holy spirit, conduct, and salvation are at issue in this conference. Questions: Where is anyone "PERPLEXED?" Where is the "WEDGE between the recipients of Paul's evangel and the Circumcision evangel?" Where do we read here (or anywhere) that Paul's evangel and Peter's evangel "eventually SPLIT THEM WIDE APART?" Where? Seriously, WHERE??
But we do read that what they accomplished at this meeting, "... SEEMS GOOD to the APOSTLES, and the ELDERS, TOGETHER with the WHOLE ECCLESIA." EVERYBODY was agreed . There were no "wedges" or "splits' between Paul and the Jerusalem elders, apostles, and ecclesia. They called Paul and Barnabas, "BELOVED." And, "... men who GIVE UP THEIR SOULS for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." They didn't need to say that. Actually, they did need to say that. They had to because their hearts were so FILLED with love and admiration for Paul and Barnabas that they just had to express it. Later Peter again refers to "our BELOVED Paul." Wedges? Splits? Different gospels? No. Only love and unity. Does anyone suppose that the Holy Spirit caused Paul to write in Eph. 4:3-4,
If supposedly there WAS NO UNITY and the saints are supposedly SPLIT into two DIFFERENT groups which will be vivified at two DIFFERENT resurrections?
True, Israel did reject the gospel message (might I add that millions of Gentiles also rejected the gospel). But the fact that Jews (or Gentiles) rejected the gospel message has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH WHETHER THE GOSPEL MESSAGE OF PAUL'S WAS DIFFERENT FROM THAT OF PETER'S! Israel rejected the gospel message because,
Here again is part of the reason I am so opposed to this "secret rapture" theory. The theory doesn't point out any real existing divisions, IT CAUSES DIVISIONS that didn't exist in the first place! This material may seem a little heavy, but bare with me because it is most important that we understand these things.
ANSWER: This is probably the most overwhelming statement this author makes! If Paul's gospel differed in SCOPE, CONTENTS, AND EXPECTATION, from Peter's gospel then we of necessity have "A DIFFERENT GOSPEL"!! And notice carefully that this author is not suggesting that Paul's gospel to the uncircumcision was different from that brought by "some who are disturbing you want also to distort the evangel of Christ" (Gal. 1:7), but that Paul's gospel to the uncircumcision was DIFFERENT FROM THE GOSPEL TO THE CIRCUMCISION. This would clearly mean that Peter's gospel was a DIFFERENT GOSPEL from Paul's gospel. What might the implications of such a thing be? What did Paul say regarding the teaching of "a different gospel?"
"ANATHEMA!" [Authorized Version = accursed]. How many times did Paul ever REPEAT a whole sentence in his writings? I don't think we should take this lightly. Whenever anyone devises a doctrine that is unscriptural, it will ALWAYS present a plethora problems in other areas of the Scriptures.
If Peter really had a "different" gospel or evangel from Paul, and Peter would have on occasion taught in one of Paul's evangelized areas, would Peter be ANATHEMA (or ACCURSED)? Does anyone really believe such a thing? Peter? The HEAD APOSTLE Peter, ANATHEMATIZED for the very gospel he was taught by his Lord and Paul's Lord?
And what if Paul had an occasion to teach circumcision saints with a gospel that was "different" from the gospel they receive by the apostles, then what? Notice what John says in II John 10-11:
This is not hard to understand. If anyone brought a "different" gospel to the circumcision saints it was a " wicked act!" If anyone brought a different gospel to the uncircumcision saints, they were to be "anathema!" But even II Pet. 3:15 shows how they welcomed "ALL THE EPISTLES" of Paul which contained Paul's gospel. And for sure they didn't call Paul "wicked," but rather "BELOVED BROTHER PAUL." How then is it even conceivable that Paul's gospel and the gospel of Peter and John were DIFFERENT?
To how many people in the history of the world did God ever speak such words? This man Peter (who apparently was crucified upside down for the love of his Lord) did not preach a different kind of gospel for which he would be "anathematized"!
Maybe it's time we give Peter the kind of respect and honor that he deserves!
Is there a Scripture that actually says that Paul evangelized the same gospel as the apostles? Yes, actually, there is.
Let us suppose for a moment (just a moment mind you), that Peter and Paul really did have and did preach DIFFERENT gospels. What problems might that create? First of all, it would mean that not only did they have different gospels from each other, but also that each one would have had to have their own separate or different gospels as well. Peter would have had to have two different gospels and Paul would have had to have two different gospels. You see Paul often went first to the JEWS (which according to this theory) would have required one gospel, and then when he taught the Gentiles, he would have needed a second different gospel. And since Peter taught primarily to the Jews, he would have needed one gospel for them, but since he also was the first apostle to go to the Gentiles, he would have also needed a second different gospel for them! NONSENSE!
PAUL'S GOSPEL WAS NOT PERPLEXING
ANSWER: It is the above teaching that is "PERPLEXING," not Paul's allusions to things concerning the end time.
Where do we actually find such a teaching in Paul's letters to the Thessalonians? Did Paul always carry two gospel messages? One in his left pocket and the other in his right pocket? Look at this scenario with a bit of wisdom and logic. Picture Paul in the synagogue in Thessalonica teaching the gospel. What gospel? Or rather, which gospel? If Paul is teaching the JEWS in a JEWISH synagogue, how is it that MANY GENTILES believed? Did Paul then take these Gentile believers aside and say something like this: "Now it is fine that you all believe, however, you can't believe what I was teaching in the synagogue has ANYTHING to do with you GENTILES--I have ANOTHER, DIFFERENT, gospel for YOU. If you believe all that stuff I told the Jews about the end time, I believe it will just 'perplex' you."
Now I can plainly see that the above expositor tells us that we must remember that Paul's practice was to go to the "Jew first," but he then states that, "Most appropriately, this new revelation is made in writing, not to the few Jews in Thessalonica, but to the Gentiles" (Emphasis his). So, supposedly, Paul is now going to clarify any misconceptions concerning his teaching in the synagogue of the Jews in Thessalonica by writing to the Gentiles only.
Question: If Paul is now going to write to the Thessalonian Gentiles only, to clarify these matters, why do these letters STILL contain these teachings which are supposedly for THE JEWS ONLY? If, supposedly, these letters are "perplexing" to those reading them today, imagine how perplexing they would have been to the Thessalonian Gentiles. Why would Paul want to "perplex" them. I thought the whole idea of these letters was to CLARIFY their understanding, not to PERPLEX them!
I personally am not "perplexed" when I read Paul's letters to the Thessalonians which contain statements relating to Jews, because these same promises to the Jews are also promises to the Gentiles seeing that the Gentiles are " FELLOW-citizens of the saints [Jews]" (Eph. 2:19).
The Thessalonians were not "perplexed" regarding any statement or "allusions" to promises to the Jews. Their only concern, apparently, was that the Day of the Lord was already upon them. And furthermore, it doesn't distinguish whether or not the newly converted Jews believed, as the Gentile converts did, that the Day of the Lord was upon them.
What is absolutely "PERPLEXING" is trying to adopt the above teaching. Look what happens when we try to read these epistles with the notion that they contain some teachings for the Jews and not the Gentiles and some teachings for the Gentiles, but not the Jews:
SECRET RAPTURE FOR SAINTS? OR SECOND COMING FOR JEWS?
We are admonished to not be "perplexed" over the supposed fact that Paul speaks of two different comings for two different groups of saints. If such a theory were true, I'll now show you confusion that goes far beyond "perplexing."
Rapturists would have us believe that the gentile Thessalonians had to decipher Paul's epistles to them in the following manner:
The secret rapture--for Gentiles only:
Christ's second coming--for Israel only:
The secret rapture--for Gentiles only:
Christ's second coming--for Israel only:
The secret rapture--for Gentiles only:
Christ's second coming--for Israel only:
The secret rapture--for Gentiles only:
Christ's second coming--for Israel only:
Now all these imagined and so-called "perplexing" statements are not just those found in the short pages of Thessalonians. The Corinthians would have been just as perplexed:
would be Christ's second coming--for Israel only.
But I Cor. 15:51-52,
would be The secret rapture--for Gentiles only. Etc., etc.
Can we not see how absurd this teaching is? Let me show you something remarkable while I am still on these two Scriptures in I Thes. 4 and I Cor. 15. Remember the argument near the front of this paper where it was stated that not withstanding any similarities, It is the differences that make the DIFFERENCE? Okay then, according to the rapture theory I Thes. 4:13-18 is definitely speaking of Christ's FIRST SECOND COMING to secretly rapture away the Gentile saints. Likewise, according to the rapture theory I Cor. 15: 51-53 is also speaking of Christ's FIRST SECOND COMING to secretly rapture away the Gentile saints. Let's closely examine these two sets of Scriptures using the same reasoning regarding the theory that differences make for different events.
Now understand that I DO NOT believe these Scriptures actually contradict in ANY way, but as rapturists claim it is the differences that make for different events, let's see how many "differences" we can find in these two sets of Scriptures:
Here are fourteen "differences" in the two accounts of Christ's coming according to I Thes. 4 and I Cor. 15--both of which are taught to be the SAME return of our Lord by rapturists. Now then, why do rapturists not contend that these are two DIFFERENT events seeing that there are plainly FOURTEEN DIFFERENCES? Let me present an even bigger problem for those who content that, "Not withstanding the similarities, it is the differences that make them different."
Now without trying to be funny, sarcastic or cute, if rapturists contend that I Thes. 4 and I Cor. 15 are both speaking of a secret rapture, then according to their own argument regarding "differences," they would have to concede that not only would the Scriptures speak of two separate comings of our Lord, but we would, indeed, have TWO SEPARATE AND DIFFERENT RAPTURES ! The rapture is a doctrine built on the sands of tradition not the rock of Scripture.
Here is what we have proved the Scriptures really teach: When Paul went to the Jews he gave them "the gospel," and when he went to Gentiles, he gave them "the gospel," and if he was teaching Jews and Gentiles TOGETHER, he still gave them "THE gospel." The ONLY gospel. And when Peter taught either the Jews or Gentiles, he DID THE SAME. And furthermore, the ONE gospel that Paul taught to the Jew and Gentiles was the very same ONE gospel that Peter taught to the Jews and Gentiles. Peter taught "God's evangel" (I Peter 4:17). Paul taught the "evangel of God" (I Thes. 2:2). LET'S ALWAYS BELIEVE THE SCRIPTURES.
SCRIPTURAL PROOF THAT PAUL WAS TEACHING THE RESURRECTION ACCORDING TO THE PROPHESIES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
Paul said in I Cor. 15:54,
ANSWER: Why would this author make such bold assertions? Simply because, if Paul is quoting from the Old Testament Prophets regarding Israel, then here is ABSOLUTE PROOF that the Scripture he is quoting has reference to ISRAEL 's resurrection! Paul clearly says that being "Swallowed up was Death by Victory" has to do with the event when,
Since rapturists contend that Israel has a separate resurrection having nothing to do with the resurrection that Paul taught, it becomes necessary to contend that not even this Old Testament quotation may be legitimate Scripture from the Prophets.
I agree that an Old Testament passage could be quoted and enlarged to encompass even more than is directly stated in the Prophet's original words. Certainly the Spirit of God has taken that liberty numerous times when quoting the ancient Prophets. However ...
HOWEVER, it is a far different thing to "enlarge" the meaning of a passage to INCLUDE, in this case the resurrection of the Gentile believers with Israel, than it is to EXCLUDE the very ones to whom the prophecy was written in the first place--namely ISRAEL!
These things are most important. Let me restate this one more time. Paul could certainly quote this prophecy to INCLUDE THE GENTILES, since they were once "...alienated from the citizenship of ISRAEL..." But now,
So now, whatever is prophesied of Israel also includes Gentiles, because they are "fellow citizens" OF Israel. But in no way could Paul EXCLUDE THE ISRAELITES from this prophecy! Gentiles becoming "FELLOW-citizens," of God's Family, with Israel, does not in some strange or mysterious way make Israel NON-citizens of God's Family! God's Word plainly tells us that these Gentile blessings are given "with" Israel, not "independent of" or to the "exclusion if" ISRAEL!
We need to get our thinking straight. The above booklet is chucked full of expressions that are degrading to the Jewish saints. It is suggested that when Paul spoke of our bodies being "changed" that it includes only Uncircumcision saints.
ANSWER: So we are told that the Uncircumcision saints will be "CELESTIAL ... SPIRIT ... THE HIGHEST IN THE HEAVENS," while the Circumcisions saints will be "SOILISH ... BLOOD ... TERRESTRIAL ... THE LOWEST ON EARTH."
I just don't see any Scriptural proof that men like Peter, James, and John will have lowly, earthly, soilish jobs in God's Kingdom. Possibly it was a typing error, but I am sure this author is well familiar with the statement of Paul's that "... flesh and BLOOD is not able to enjoy an allotment [inheritance] in the kingdom of God" (I Cor. 15:50). I don't know why he would suggest that the Jewish saints will be resurrected back to "flesh and blood."
ANSWER: Webster's peer n. 1 a person or thing of the same rank, ability, etc.; an equal. As the nations are the "peer" of Israel, that is having the SAME rank, SAME ability--an EQUAL, it is hard to comprehend that their allotment will be UNUTTERABLY HIGHER !? "Equality and sameness" seems to be missing from that phrase. In fact, any Scriptural reference to such an inequality seems to be missing as well. I believe this teaching promotes division and not unity, competition and not harmony; vanity rather than service.
ANSWER: So some are "taken" and others "left." But which is which? I am covering this question not because of its paramount importance to this teaching, but because of how easy it is to totally misunderstand sometimes what is really being taught in the Scriptures. Like most people, the above author assumes that the saints are the ones "taken" and the ones to be judged are "left" behind. But is this true?
RAPTURE OF THE WICKED
Notice that our Lord instructs us that "as the days of Noah, thus shall it be." Okay then, how was it in the days of Noah? Who was "left" and who was "taken away?"
Did you catch that? It was all the wicked who were eating, drinking, and marrying that were "TAKEN AWAY," not Noah and his family!
And so here we have a principle that is used throughout the entire Bible--the good are left and the bad are taken away. Immediately after verse 39 where the wicked are "taken," we have verse 40 which says, " Then two shall be in the field; one [wicked] is taken along and one left: two grinding at the millstone; one [wicked] is taken along and one left."
For further conformation of this look at the parable of the wheat and the tares. You all know the parable, so I won't repeat all of it. Just notice that the tares
So the tares are gathered out and burned and the wheat is left behind.
Notice Romans 8:33, "... God's elect," Col. 3:12, "... the elect of God ..." Titus 1:1, "... God;s elect ..." Now look at Mat. 24:22, "Yet because of the elect [chosen], those days shall be shortened." Therefore, the "elect" or chosen ones have not been raptured away, but rather left, or God wouldn't have to shorten the days of tribulation for the sake of the "elect."
Didn't our Lord clearly pray to His Father, "I am not asking that Thou shouldst be taking them AWAY OUT OF THE WORLD, but that Thou shouldst be keeping them from the wicked one" (John 17:15)?
Clearly the good are retained and kept, but the bad are severed and taken away! If ever there is to be a rapture, it will be A RAPTURE OF THE WICKED, not of the saints!
Now a few Scriptures to show that it was always God's intention that the righteous remain on this earth:
Jesus said He was going to His Father IN HEAVEN to prepare a place for His apostles. Peter said that Christ,
And yet we know that Christ brings these treasures BACK TO EARTH.
Why do we think it is any different for the Gentiles? It is not different.
But are we unlike the Jews in that we really GO to heaven to receive our treasures? NO! Next verse: "For in this also we are groaning, longing to be dressed in our habitation which is OUT of heaven ..."
There are so many Scriptures like this that contradict the rapture theory. Look at this one,
Not in the "rapture," but in "the day of our Lord."
I seriously doubt whether anyone could prove to us that the place where God dwells, "heaven," is actually a specific geographical location so many light years from the earth on some galactic rock in outer space. In the same way "eternity" is not "a very long time." They are both a condition or a realm. God is in us, while He is in Heaven, while He is also simultaneously, EVERYWHERE!
Since, "... we shall be judging messengers ..." Is it logical to conclude that we will need space worthy bodies to travel among the galaxies of outer space? Maybe we should ask whether messengers really reside millions of light years from earth on the rocks and planets of outer space.
FROM WHERE DO WE JUDGE?
Below is a chart of six Scriptural references showing six categories of events with regards to Christ's return. It is the second and fourth references that rapturists claim are descriptions of a secret rapture, while the first, third, fifth and sixth are supposedly a later and different event. Irrespective of similarities, we are told that it is "The differences that make them different." But we have shown conclusively that these differences do no constitute contradictions--only additions or omissions of information.
If we study the chart for a few minutes we are struck with the similarity of events described. Although the second and fourth references are claimed to be the secret rapture, there is really no apparent reason to select these two references as being the same event but definitely different from the others.
None of the references are exactly alike, but seriously, can't we see that the second reference (I Thes. 4) has more categories in common with the first reference (Mat. 24) and the third reference (I Thes 1) than it does with the fourth reference (I Cor. 15). Yet, rapturists reject Matthew 24 and I Thessalonians 1 as being the same even as I Thessalonians 4 and I Corinthians 15.
There are, of course, dozens of other Scriptures that also speak of Christ's return to this earth to set up His kingdom, but most of them do not have as many detained events mentioned as do these six references.
I think it should becoming clear by now that not only is there no evidence in the letter to support a secret rapture prior to Christ's return to His saints, but there is also no evidence to support a Scriptural division among the saints that would call for such a rapture either.
As for me, I am most content to be a member of ONE body consisting of ALL the saints.
CORRELATION OF SIX PROPHECIES ON RETURN OF CHRIST
So what is the bottom line of all this? I think it is quite simple. I have already shown that the four writers of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did not put the exact same information in their accounts of our Lord's Crucifixion. But, that does by no means prove that their accounts are, (1) False, (2) Contradictory, or (3) Four different accounts of FOUR DIFFERENT CRUCIFIXIONS! The chart above is likewise, not six accounts of SIX DIFFERENT COMINGS OF OUR LORD! Nor five, nor four, nor three, nor TWO! Jesus Christ returns a second time to rule with ALL His saints-- ONCE !
The above chart should show us how well all the Scriptures correlate when we don't try to make them say things they don't say. Furthermore, there is a very profound principle that God Himself gives to us for the express purpose of being able to put Scriptures together. Here's what God's word tells us about different information found in different parts of His Word:
So what real, Scriptural, justification is there for teaching that God has TWO different groups of saints?, who were taught TWO different gospels?, who are saved by TWO different methods (works and grace)?, who are looking for TWO different comings of our Lord?, who will be resurrected at TWO different times?, at TWO different places?, with TWO different bodies (terrestrial and celestial)?, for TWO different callings and expectations?, always being with Christ at TWO different locations?, and having TWO different rewards (one "UNUTTERABLY HIGHER" THAN THE OTHER)?, when the facts of God's Word tells us otherwise?
That there were, historically and Scripturally, two different groups of people who received the ONE gospel, there can be no question. Jesus came unto His own (Israel) and except for those designated for the kingdom beforehand, as a nation Israel rejected Him and crucified Him. But Jesus told His disciples after marveling over the faith of one Gentile Centurion, that
Clearly the Gentile saints are going to be WITH the Jewish saints in the Kingdom of Heaven!
Jesus Christ Himself foretold of the one union of these two different peoples:
Since our Lord says that there is "ONE flock and ONE Shepherd" who is man to SPLIT THEM INTO TWO?
Paul told the Thessalonian Gentile (and Jewish) saints that they would all be
And Zechariah said,
Now, how many groups of " ALL the saints" are there? We object to those who would make two different groups of the "all" in I Cor. 15:22,
Clearly these are both the SAME "ALL."
And so it is with "ALL" the saints. We are not speaking of ALL the saints verses ALL the unbelievers. That would be two different groups. But no, we are speaking of "ALL the saints"(I Thes. 3:13), and "ALL the saints" (Zech. 14:7). If "all the saints" are not included in "ALL the saints," then maybe we should start looking for another form of communication that doesn't use words.
Do we think that Jesus prayed in vain
Later Paul taught us that,
Whoever is "IN Christ" is ONE--ONE body. For there is only ONE body:
Now just in case someone has the audacity to suggest that the "one body" of this one verse is only in the CONTEXT of these verses, let me present the following:
According to Eph. 4:1-5, how many "Gods" are there? " ONE God and Father of all ..." (Ver 5). How many "Lords" are there? "... ONE Lord ..." (Ver 5). Is someone seriously going to suggest that it is only in the "CONTEXT" of these verses that there is ONE God and ONE Lord?
Yes, there is but ONE God and ONE Lord--in this "context" or in ANY context! And, if one insists on "contexts," then also in this context there is but: "ONE body and ONE spirit, according as you were called also with ONE expectation of your calling; ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE God and Father of all, Who is over all and through all and in all" (Eph. 4:4-5)! I am convinced that there are probably a THOUSAND ways to prove that there are not TWO different groups of saints that will be raised at two separate comings of our Lord.
Let's notice just one more in these verses. Notice that there is "... one SPIRIT ..." Notice also that there is a "... UNITY of the spirit ..." Okay then, by the unity of one spirit the apostles (and Circumcision Saints) were made ONE in Christ and the Father (John 17). Now Paul comes along and is inspired to tell us (Uncircumcision Saints) that we should "... KEEP the unity of the spirit ..." Let me suggest in all sincerity that one does not "keep the unity of the spirit" by splitting asunder the very saints that make up that unity! And there are so many examples of this truth.
Paul thoroughly explains this in a similar metaphor in Rom. 11.
"Vaunting." Vaunting is vain boasting. Need I reiterate the attitude that goes along with this secret rapture theory? Listen again to what we have read:
Notice what God says regarding such attitudes:
Paul then explains that when Israel is again grafted back into the same olive tree, they will be every bit as glorious as those (Gentiles) who were grafted in from a wild olive tree! So
And so a few verses later Paul tells us that we who are many [Jews and Gentiles, all believers, ALL the saints] "... ARE ONE BODY IN CHRIST" (Rom. 12:5). Listen, Paul's thoughts and prayers were always with the Jewish saints in Judea (Rom. 9:3), and Peters thoughts and prayers were always with the Gentile believers under Paul's care (II Pet. 3:15-16).
Peter read and studied "... ALL the [Paul's] epistles ..." In Rom. 15:4 Paul says "... that through the endurance and the consolation of the SCRIPTURES we may have expectation." The only Scriptures at this time were the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures. And any "expectation" of the Gentiles would be one shared with Israel. Later Paul says that Christ came to the Circumcision, "... to confirm the patriarchal promises" (Rom. 15:8). With this promise in mind, Paul says, "... it is written ...'Be merry, ye nations, WITH HIS PEOPLE [Israel]" (Ver 9 & 10).
Can't we believe these verses? The Gentiles have their expectation "WITH" God's people Israel. Not in a reward that is a million light years away and a million times higher than "His people, Israel.:" Jump across the page, "... yet now I [Paul] am going to Jerusalem, DISPENSING [service] TO THE SAINTS [Circumcision Jews]!" (Rom. 15:26). Paul said that Macedonia and Achaia are delighted to send contributions to the poor saints in Jerusalem. He says that "For they are delighted, and they are their DEBTORS, for if the nations PARTICIPATE in their SPIRITUAL things, they ought to minister to them in fleshly things also" (Ver. 27).
The Gentiles participate in the spiritual things of ISRAEL!
The Gentiles' "consolation in expectation" is found in the Hebrew Old Testament concerning ISRAEL. They are now "ONE body, in Christ [with Israel]." They "PARTICIPATE in THEIR [Israel's] spiritual things" The Gentiles who were "... alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers of the promise covenants, having NO expectation, and WITHOUT God in the world ... nullifying the law of precepts in decrees, that He should be creating the TWO [Circumcision Jews and Uncircumcision Gentiles], in Himself, into ONE new humanity, making peace; and should be reconciling both in ONE BODY to God ... for through Him we both [Jews and Gentiles] have had access, in ONE spirit ... Consequently, then, no longer are you strangers and sojourners, but are FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE SAINTS [The Circumcision Saints] and belong to God's family ..." (Eph. 2:12-19).
I don't think it necessary to spend pages commenting on these simple Scriptures. The Gentiles are " fellow-citizens of the saints." They are not "citizens" in some lofty "unutterably higher" heavenly domain of which the Jewish saints of Israel are no citizens at all! I don't want to belabor these points beyond what is necessary to make them understood, however, let's just take a quick look at this word "fellow" as in "fellow-citizen:"
Webster's fellow n. Late OE feologa, partner 1 an associate 2 one of the same rank; equal --adj. 1 having the same position, work, etc. 2 associated [fellow workers]
Now, with these definitions firmly in mind, can anyone explain to me how the Uncircumcision Gentile saints who are now " FELLOW-CITIZENS OF the [Jewish] saints" can possibly have a different calling, gospel, salvation, expectation, resurrection, body, and reward from the very citizens of whom they are "fellows?"
Don't get married to doctrines that have no Scriptural support. Don't cling to your bosom a doctrine that is demeaning and divisive or make it an idol of your heart. I know it is hard to admit that we have been wrong and even deceived by Satan and his shinning ministers, but stubbornness is as the sin of witchcraft--give it up!
People who are hanging their hopes on a future secret rapture are clinging to a sham. I dislike this doctrine even more now than I did before writing this paper. The sheer number of Scriptures and the depth to which they are perverted in an effort to force the teaching of a secret rapture into them is overwhelming. Don't feel badly if once you firmly believed in a secret rapture. Hey, we have all been duped in the past to one degree or another, and God only knows how much unduping we may yet have to go through. But thank God that truth is continually being recovered.
I hope that no one will have ill feelings toward those who teach a secret rapture. There are exponents of the secret rapture that have quite good scholarship in other areas of their teaching. So, for sure, let's not be throwing out any babies. On the other hand, the rapture teaching is a sizable amount of dirty bath water that sullies a plethora of Bible truths. Let's not be found guilty of dividing the saints when what God wants us to do is "... to keep the unity of the spirit with the tie of peace: one body and one spirit ..."
I have considerably more notes on this subject, but I think maybe it is time to bring this paper to an end. We could explore the origin of the rapture which can be traced to a Catholic who posed as a Christian Jew to make himself more credible.
There is much that could be said regarding how Christ actually comes and what He will do after He arrives. Will He literally ride out of Heaven on a flying white horse with fire shooting out of His eyes and a long sword coming out of His mouth followed by literal armies ready to do battle against the few remaining and helpless humans on earth, and all this happening while the lightning is flashing and silver trumpets are blasting? Probably NOT. But, just like the rest of Revelation, the things that these symbols, metaphors, and figurative language represent will certainly be GLORIOUS, but that's a subject for another paper. Remember that we have God's promise that the wise shall understand. We all need to pray for wisdom, that's for sure.
Paul spoke of only one resurrection of saints at one presence of our Lord. There is no secret rapture of highly privileged saints followed by a resurrection of underprivileged saints. Thank God we are all one in Christ Jesus:
"For whoever are baptized into Christ, put on Christ, in Whom there is NO Jew NOR yet Greek, there is NO slave NOR yet free, there is NO male and female, for you ALL ARE ONE IN CHRIST JESUS. Now if you are Christ's, consequently you are of Abraham's seed, enjoyers of the allotment [singular--not two different allotment s] according to the promise [singular]" (Rom. 3:27-29)! This includes Peter and Paul, Jews and Gentles, and ALL THOSE WHO LOVE HIS APPEARING!
May God bless all those who were graced with the patience and a love for the truth to read this lengthy paper!