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:
"Now I am entreating you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ [sounds to me like he is about to say something rather important], that all may be saying the same thing, and there may be no schisms among you, but you may be attuned to the same mind and to the same opinion" (I Cor. 1:10).
"... that there may be no schism in the body ..." (I Cor. 12:25).
This also includes,
"... endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit with the tie of peace ..." (Eph. 4:3).
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:
- Who will be in this secret rapture (resurrection)? Some say only the Body of Christ which they claim is composed of Gentiles and a remnant of Jewish believers only. The Apostles and saints of Israel will supposedly be in a resurrection that occurs much later at a different coming or presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. Others believe the Scriptures show that ALL the saints (dead and alive, Jews and Gentiles), are vivified together at Christ’s one and only second coming.
- When will this secret rapture take place in prophetic chronology? There are three popular teachings regarding when Christ returns. Many believe that the final seven years of Daniel’s 70th week prophecy are separated by thousands of years from the first 69 weeks, and that the last seven years of this prophecy are to be fulfilled beginning seven years before Christ’s second coming. This then, apparently, is to be seven years of trouble and tribulation. The last three and one-half years is regarded by many as the "Great Tribulation" (Mat. 24:21).
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:
We cannot take the time to reply to every opposing view [to the rapture], and when even our friends are sometimes so influenced, if not convinced, by arguments that seem to be quite persuasive, and are certainly prejudicial, we can only ask them to take special care in these things before forming conclusions. I realize that the opposing views must appear to many to be substantial, and that we can easily be made to appear more than mistaken, and merely to be presenting our own unwarranted imaginings. However, those who actually understand, not the mere letter of our position, but the reasons why we teach as we do on these things are by no means of the opinion that advocates of opposing views are presenting valid or legitimately convincing arguments.
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 bold print:
(1) Many attempts have been made to identify the revelations in Daniel, Zechariah, Matthew and Revelation with Paul's revelations here [I Thes. 4:13-18] and in I Corinthians 15. There are some similarities, especially in the use of such terms as "trumpet," "clouds" and "presence" (or "coming"). But it is the differences which make the difference!
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,
"Now those who are with me gaze, indeed, at the light, yet they hear not the voice of Him Who is speaking to me."
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:
1. Judas greets Jesus in the garden with: "Rejoice, Rabbi!" (Mat. 26:49), but, "Rabbi; Rabbi" in (Mark 14:45).
2. Matt. 26:49 says of Judas, "And he kisses Him fondly," but in John’s account Judas doesn’t kiss Jesus at all to identify Him.
In John 18:5-9, Jesus, in fact, identifies Himself: "Whom are you seeking?" They answered Him, "Jesus, the Nazarene."
Jesus is saying to them, "I am He."
Again, then, He inquires of them, "Whom are you seeking?" Now they Said, "Jesus, the Nazarene." Jesus answered, "I said to you that I am He."
3. In Matt. 26:53 Jesus says, "Or are you supposing that I am not able to entreat My Father, and at present He will station by My side more than twelve legions of messengers?"
Mark, Luke, and John do not make mention of these twelve legions of messengers.
4. In Luke 22:50 "a certain one of them smites the slave of the chief priest and amputates his right ear," and Jesus "touching the ear, He heals him" (Ver. 51). In John 18:10, Simon Peter strikes off the ear of the chief priest’s slave, but in this account Jesus does not heal it.
Comment: If this verse were speaking rather about our Lord’s coming, instead of His crucifixion, rapturists would think it reason to be two different events. One, where an unknown person strikes off an ear and Jesus heals it back. The second, where Peter is identified as the offender, strikes off an ear and Jesus does not heal it back. Do the differences really make them two different events?
5. Mark 14:43 tells us that the ones who came to the garden looking for Jesus were, "the chief priests, Scribes, and elders." Whereas Matt. 26:47 mentions only, "the chief priests and elders." A whole category of people is left out--the scribes. Are we witnessing two different crucifixions at two different times? Later we will see how rapturists treat a scripture that fails to mention a specific group of people, such as "the dead." Their reasoning: "If they aren’t mentioned; they aren’t included." And therefore, they must be different events. Not true!
6. Luke 22:61 says, "Ere a cock crows today, you will be renouncing me thrice."
Mark 14:30 says, "... you, today, in this night, ere a cock crows twice, thrice will be denouncing me."
Comment: Now I don’t have the time or space to clarify all these supposed differences or contradictions in these Scriptures. That’s not my purpose here. My point is to show that these are the kinds of different information presented in the Scriptures at times which lead people who aren’t careful in their study to conclude that these Scriptures must be speaking of two or more different events at different times, when really they are speaking of only one event at one time in history. (It just so happens, that I did write a paper about 35 years ago on this apparent contradiction regarding the crowing of cocks and Peter’s denial of his Lord . I don’t know if I could locate it again or not).
7. Mark 14:54 says that they took Jesus from the garden to Caiaphas, the chief priest.
But, John 18:13, says, "And they bind Him, and led Him away to Hannas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the chief priest of that year."
8. Luke 23:33 says two malefactors were hanged with Jesus.
Matt. 27:38 says two robbers were crucified with Jesus. Also, Jesus promised one of the malefactors, life in paradise (Luke 23:39). Jesus didn’t promise anyone paradise in Matthew or Mark.
9. Luke 23:7 says that Pilate sends Jesus to Herod. Herod returns Jesus back to Pilate clothed in splendid attire (Ver. 11). There is no other account of this trip to Herod. Did this unusual event take place at a different crucifixion?
10. "And as they led Him away, getting hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, coming from the field, they place the cross on him to carry behind Jesus" (Luke 23:26). However, John 19:17 says, "And, bearing the cross Himself, He came out to what is termed a Skull’s place."
11. Matt. 26:34 says that they gave Jesus "wine and bile to drink," while Mark 15:23 says that they gave Him "wine with myrrh to drink"
12. At Jesus’ crucifixion, Pilate placed a sign over the head of Jesus which read:
A. "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews" (Matt. 27:36).
B. "The King of the Jews" (Mark 15:26).
C. "The King of the Jews is this (Luke 23:38).
D. "Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews" (John 19:19).
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:
"And, in as much as it is reserved to the men to be dying once, yet after this a judging, thus Christ also, being offered ONCE for the bearing of the sins of many, will be seen a second time, by those awaiting Him, apart from sin, for salvation, through faith" (Heb. 9:27-28).
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!
(2) Considering that Paul speaks of a secret (or "mystery") in relation to these revelations (I Cor. 15:51) and introduces this matter to the Thessalonians who knew all about the day of the Lord (I Thess. 5:2) with the words, "I would not have you to be ignorant ..." should lead us to weigh his words very carefully. Is Paul, indeed, presenting a new revelation?
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:
A. Not all shall be put to repose [death]
B. We all shall be changed
C. In an instant, in the twinkle of an eye
D. At the last trump
E. The dead will be roused incorruptible, and we shall be changed
F. For this corruptible must put on incorruption
G. This mortal put on immortality
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:
"... He was seen by Cephas [Peter], thereupon by the twelve. Thereupon he was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the majority are remaining hitherto ..." (Vers. 5-6)
"Yet, last of all, even as if a premature birth, He was seen by me [Paul] also" (I Cor. 15:8)
Peter and Paul, circumcision and uncircumcision, witnesses to the same Christ and the same resurrection. Paul further states,
"Now if Christ has not been roused, for naught, consequently, is our heralding ..." (Ver. 14)
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.
I Cor. 15:19 "If we [Paul and the Corinthians only?] are having an expectation in Christ in this life only, more forlorn than all men are we."
Verse 18, "Consequently those also, who are put to repose in Christ, perished." If as Paul states, Christ did not rise from the dead, then even those "... put to repose in Christ, perished."
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:
I Cor. 15;5, "... He was seen by Cephas, thereupon by the twelve. thereupon he was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the majority are remaining hitherto, yet some were put to repose also."
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
"We all, indeed, shall not be put to repose [death]" (I Cor. 15;51).
That was never taught before. But what of those who were put to repose?
"For He will be trumpeting, and the dead [repose] will be roused incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (ver. 51-52)
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
(3) " Paul ... introduces this matter to the Thessalonians who knew all about the day of the Lord (I Thes. 5:2)."
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
"... for you yourselves are accurately aware that the day of the Lord is as a thief in the night--thus is it coming!"
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:
"Now we are asking you, brethren, for the sake of the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to Him, that you be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be alarmed, either through spirit, or through word, or through an epistle as through us, as that the day of the Lord is present. No one should be deluding you by any method, for, should not the apostasy be coming first and the man of lawlessness be unveiled, the son of destruction" (II Thes. 2:1-4).
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:
"Yet faithful is the Lord, Who will be establishing you and guarding you from the wicked one" (Ch. 3:3).
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."
(4) To begin with, let us consider what the apostle has to say regarding the relationship of the events of I Thessalonians 4:13-18 with what he calls "the day of the Lord." Clearly he has two "days" in mind in I Thessalonians 5:1-11, the first being the day of the Lord which comes as a thief in the night (v. 2) and the second being "that day" which does not overtake believers as a thief (v. 4). From the tape: "... one comes as a thief in the night and the other does not overtake as a thief, and that ought to make it CLEAR that there are two DIFFERENT days in view in this portion." (Emphasis mine).
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:
(1) "One day comes as a thief in the night, and the other day does not come as a thief."
(2) "One day overtakes the saints, and the other day does not overtake the saints."
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:
"... the day of the Lord is as a thief in the night ... you brethren, are not in darkness, that the day [of the Lord] may be overtaking you as a thief"
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:
"... the day of the Lord is as a thief ..." (I Thes. 5:2).
"... that the day may be overtaking you as a thief ..." (I Thes. 5:4).
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!
(5) A careful examination of the expression "the day of the Lord" will show that it includes the tribulation ...
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:
- "Immediately AFTER the affliction [great affliction, or great tribulation--ver. 29], of those days ...
- "... the sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not be giving her beams, and the stars shall be falling from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken ...
- "And THEN shall appear the sign of the Son of Mankind in heaven, and then all the tribes of the land shall grieve, and they shall see the Son of Mankind coming on the clouds of heaven with power and much glory."
"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).
"For coming is the DAY OF THE LORD! A day of darkness and gloominess. A day of clouds and murkiness" (Joel 2:2).
"The heavens quake, The sun and the moon are somber, and the stars gather in their brightness ... before His army [Rev. 19:11] (Joel 2:10) ...
"And He will spare His people" (2:18).
"And I will give MIRACLES IN THE HEAVENS above, And signs on the earth, Blood and fire and pillars of smoke, The sun shall be turned to darkness, And the moon to blood (2:30-31), BEFORE the coming of the DAY OF THE LORD, the great and fearful day" (2:30-31).
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
(6) ... the tribulation ... is, in its beginning stages, a time of darkness and gloom, thus being comparable in its arrival to a thief in the night. And from the tape we have this statement: Now I think that the significance of this thief here is NOT so much the suddenness, or NOT so much the secretiveness of it, BUT THE GLOOM AND THE DARKNESS AND THE NEGATIVE ASSOCIATIONS where the judgment is poured out and the wrath, because you notice that the figures he uses here are light (verse 5), and day again. And then in verse 6 and 7, watching and sober, not drunk, you see. These are the qualities of the day of our expectation. So the ones as I see it, the ones that Paul is addressing, are in a different kind of a day as their expectation. The day when they are snatched away together in clouds has nothing to do with this day of the Lord coming as a thief in the night.
What is the principle point of the figure of the thief in relation to the Day of the Lord? What is the point of likeness in the figure of speech, since we all know there are differences, but what is the point of likeness in the figure of the thief in relation to the day of the Lord? It would appear from Revelation 3 that perhaps you are right that this is picturing the unexpectedness of Christ’s return, that is His arrival being a surprise. But if that is so, then we conclude that those who are watching will not be surprised by His arrival, yet Matt. 24:44 suggests that even if they are ready, such an hour as you think not the Son of Man comes.
I maintain that that figure of the thief, the likeness that is being presented to us is referring to the ominous qualities of the day of the Lord, that is the portent or predicting of the time of evil, the ominous qualities of the Day of the Lord.
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,
"... even as the lightning is coming out from the east and is appearing as far as the west, thus shall be the PRESENCE of the Son of Mankind" (Matt. 24:27).
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!
"... then all the tribes of the land shall grieve, and they shall see the Son of Mankind coming on the clouds of heaven with power and much GLORY"! (Mat. 24:30).
"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."
"Now that be knowing, for if the householder were aware in what watch the thief is combing, he would watch, and would not let his house be tunneled into" (Mat. 24:43). (Night is not mentioned).
"Now the day of the Lord will be arriving as a thief ..." (II Pet. 3:10). (Night is not mentioned).
"Now this you know, that if the householder were aware at what hour the thief is coming, he would watch ..." (Lk. 12:39). (Night is not mentioned).
"Now you brethren, are not in darkness, that the day may be overtaking you as a thief ..." (I Thes. 5:4). (Night is not mentioned).
"I shall be arriving on you as a thief ..." (Rev. 3:3). (Night is not mentioned).
"Lo! I am coming as a thief! Happy is he who is watching ..." (Rev. 16:15). (Night is not mentioned).
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:
"... if the householder were aware in what watch the thief is coming, he would watch ..." (Mat. 24:43). But he didn’t know when and neither will anyone else know when He returns.
"Now, concerning that day and hour no one is aware, neither the messengers of the heavens, nor the Son ..." (Mat. 24:36).
"For even as the days of Noah, thus shall be the presence of the So of Mankind. "...for as they were in the days before the deluge ... and did not know till the deluge came ..." (Mat. 24:37-39).
"Be watching, then, for you are not aware on what day your Lord is Coming" (Matt. 24:42).
"... for in an hour which you are not supposing, the Son of Mankind is coming" (Mat. 24:24-44).
"... for you are not aware when the lord of the house is coming ..." (Mk 13:35).
"Not yours is it to know times or eras ..." (Acts 1:7).
"I shall be arriving on you as a thief, and under no circumstances will you be knowing what hour I shall be arriving" (Rev. 3:3).
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!
(7) By way of contrast [to the darkness and gloom of the day of the Lord], our expectation is described by the words "light" and "day" in I Thessalonians 5:4-11.
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."
"Again, then, Jesus speaks to them [His twelve disciples], saying, I am the Light of the world. He who is following Me [and, of course, His disciples and many others did follow Him], should under no circumstances be walking in darkness, but will be having the LIGHT of life" (Jn. 8:12).
"As you have the light, be believing in the light, that you may be becoming Sons of LIGHT" (John 12:36).
"Who calls you out of darkness into His marvelous LIGHT" (I Pet. 2:9)!
There doesn’t appear to be a "contrast," but rather perfect harmony. ALL saints are of the light and of the day!
(8) This indicates that the rapture of I Thessalonians 4:17 comes under different conditions than the day of the Lord as described in 5:1-3.
ANSWER: In the second to the last chapter of this article the author concedes the following:
These evidences of more than one coming of the Lord do not prove that the rapture occurs prior to the tribulation period. (Emphasis mine)
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. Yet the writer states, "These evidences of more than one coming of the Lord DO NOT prove that the rapture occurs PRIOR to the tribulation period." Doesn’t this statement concede much of their argument in favor of rapture resurrection "long before that of Israel"? Especially this would seem so in the light of the staunch dogmatism with which this theory is taught and defended.
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.
(9) Furthermore, Paul and those who accepted his message of grace are not appointed to "wrath" (I Thess. 5:9). There is a very important revelation concerning this escape from wrath in I Thessalonians 1:10. Paul and all the believers associated with him could look upon Jesus as their Deliverer or Rescuer from the coming indignation. This, in fact, is put into the past tense in the King James Version. That deliverance had already occurred for Paul when he wrote this epistle nineteen hundred years ago. It has been compared to the removal of someone from the pathway of an approaching storm, such as a hurricane. All of us have been removed from the pathway of these approaching troubles at the end of this age.
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:
1. Affliction: Keyword Concordance, anguish, persecution, tribulation, trouble, ill treatment, suffering. Webster’s: affliction, any cause of pain or suffering.
2.Tribulation: Keyword Concordance, affliction Webster’s: tribulation, great misery or distress
3.Wrath: Keyword Concordance, fury, indignation, vexation Webster’s: wrath, intense anger, rage, fury, vengeance
4.Indignation: Keyword Concd., anger, vengeance, wrath Webster’s: Adj.-- indignation, expressing anger especially unjust or mean actions. Noun-- righteous anger.
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,
"For God did not appoint us to INDIGNATION ..." (I Thes. 5:9).
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:
"Progeny of vipers! Who intimates to you to be fleeing from the impending indignation?" (Matt. 3:7).
"For God’s indignation is being revealed from heaven on all the irreverence and injustice of men ..." (Rom. 1:18).
"Yet, in accord with your hardness and unrepentant heart you are hoarding for yourself indignation in the day of indignation and revelation of the just judgment of God ..." (Rom. 2:5).
"Much rather, then, being now justified in His blood, we shall be saved from indignation, through Him" (Rom. 5:9).
"Now if God, wanting to display His indignation and to make His powerful doings known, carries, with much patience, the vessels of indignation ..." (Rom. 9:22).
"Being at peace with all mankind, you are not avenging yourselves, beloved, but be giving place to His indignation, for it is written, "Mine is vengeance! I will repay! The Lord is saying" (Rom. 12:19).
"Let no one be seducing you with empty words, for because of these things the indignation of God is coming on the sons of stubbornness" (Eph. 5:6).
"Deaden, then, your members that are on the earth: prostitution, uncleanness, passion, evil desire and greed, which is idolatry, because of which the indignation of God is coming on the sons of stubbornness ..." (Col. 3:5-6).
"Wherefore, ‘I am disgusted with this generation, and said, Ever are they straying in heart; Yet they know not My ways,’ As I swear in My indignation, If they shall be entering into My rest ...!" (Heb. 3:10-11).
"Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him Who is sitting on the throne, and from the indignation of the Lambkin, for the great day of Their indignation came, and who is able to stand? (Rev. 6:17).
"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 to blight those who are blighting the earth" (Rev. 11:18-19).
"If anyone is worshiping the wild beast and its image, and is getting an emblem on his forehead or on his hand, he, also, is drinking of the wine of the fury of God, blended undiluted in the cup of His indignation, and he shall be tormented in fire and sulfur in the sight of the holy messengers and in the sight of the Lambkin" (Rev. 14:10).
"And Babylon the great is brought to remembrance in the sight of God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fury of His indignation" (Rev. 16:19).
"And He is treading the wine trough of the fury of the indignation of God, the Almighty" (Rev. 19:16).
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:
"Jesus, our Rescuer out of the coming indignation" (I Thes. 1:10),
"God did not appoint us to indignation ..." (I Thes. 5:9).
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,
"... seeing that your faith is flourishing and the love of each one of you all for one another is increasing, so that we ourselves glory in you in the ecclesias of God" (II Thes. 1:3-4).
So what was their problem? Why these two epistles from Paul? Here’s what was happening in Thessalonica:
I Thes. Chapter one, verse 3, "... your work of faith, and toil of love and endurance of expectation"
Verse 6, "... receiving the word in much affliction ..."
Chapter two, verse 2, Paul also suffered with them, "... though suffering before and being outraged ... we are bold in our God to speak the evangel of God to you with a vast struggle."
Verse 4, "God, Who is testing our hearts."
Verse 14, "For you suffered the same ..."
Chapter three, verse 3, "No one is to be swayed by these afflictions ..."
Verse 4, "... we predicted to you that we are about to be afflicted ..."
Verse 7, Paul and his companions, "... were consoled, brethren, over you in all our necessity and affliction ..." II Thes.
Chapter one, verse 4, "... for your endurance and faith in all your persecutions and the afflictions with which you are bearing ..."
Verse 5, "... for which you are suffering also ..."
Verse 7, "... those afflicting you, and to you who are being afflicted ..."
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 your endurance and faith in all your persecutions and afflictions with which you are bearing ... to deem you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering also ..." (II Thes. 1:5-6).
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;
- "... how you turn back to God from idols, to be slaving for the living and true God, and to be waiting for His Son out of the heavens ..." (I Thes. 1:9-10).
- "... we were to each one of you, as a father to his own children, consoling and comforting you and attesting unto you to be walking worthily of God, Who calls you into His own kingdom and glory" (I Thes. 2:11-12).
- "For who is our expectation, or joy, or wreath of glorying? Or is it not even you, in front of our Lord Jesus, in His PRESENCE?" (I Thes. 2:19).
- "Now may the Lord cause you to increase and superabound in love for one another and for all, even as we also for you, to establish your hearts unblamable in holiness in front of our God and Father, in the PRESENCE of our Lord Jesus with all His saints." I Thes. 3:12-13).
- "... we, the living, who are surviving to the PRESENCE of the Lord ... meet the Lord in the air" (I Thes. 4:15-17).
- "... may your unimpaired spirit and soul and body be kept blameless in the PRESENCE of our Lord Jesus Christ!" (I Thes. 5:23).
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:
"I am thanking my God always concerning you over the grace of God which is being given you in Christ Jesus, for in everything are you enriched in Him, in all expression and all knowledge, according as the testimony of Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not deficient in any grace, awaiting the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will be confirming you also until the consummation, unimpeachable in the DAY OF OUR LORD Jesus Christ" (I Cor. 1:4-8).
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
"... rest, with us, AT the unveiling of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven ..." (II Thes. 1:7).
Paul told Timothy the same thing. Paul told Timothy to pursue, endure, and contend, as the Thessalonians also did,
"... unto THE ADVENT of our Lord Christ Jesus, which ... will be showing; He is King of kings and Lord of lords ..."
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 on His cloak and on His thigh He has a name written: ‘King of kings and Lord of lords" (Rev. 19:15).
And when did Peter teach that we would receive rest and glory for enduring our testing?
"... that the testing of your faith, much more precious than gold which is perishing, yet, being tested by fire, may be found for applause and glory and honor AT THE UNVEILING OF JESUS CHRIST" (I Pet. 1:7).
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,
"... all may be saying the same thing, and there may be no schisms among you, but you may be attuned to the same mind and to the same opinion" (Verse 10).
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
(10) Paul and all the believers associated with him could look upon Jesus as their Deliverer or Rescuer from the coming indignation ... That deliverance had already occurred for Paul when he wrote this epistle nineteen hundred years ago.
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:
"Go, for he is a choice instrument of Mine, to bear My name before both the nations and kings, besides the sons of Israel, for I shall be intimating to him how much he must be suffering for My name’s sake" (Acts 9:15-16).
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:
"For I am already a libation, and the period of my dissolution is imminent. I have contended the ideal contest. I have finished my career. I have kept the faith. Furthermore, there is reserved for me the wreath of righteousness, which the Lord, the just Judge, will be paying to me in THAT DAY; yet not to me only, but also to all who love His advent" (II Tim. 3:6-8).
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:
(11) It [the rescue] has been compared to the removal of someone from the pathway of an approaching storm, such as a hurricane. All of us have been removed from the pathway of these approaching troubles at the end of this age.
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!
(12) All of us have been removed from the pathway of these approaching troubles at the end of this age.
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.
"God did not appoint us to INDIGNATION ..." (Thes.. 5:9). But God did appoint us to AFFLICTIONS [troubles, tribulations] (I Thes. 3:3).
(13) Although some of Israel (such as the 144,000 who are sealed) will be protected during the coming affliction, there is no evidence that they are rescued out of that time of gloom and darkness.
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:
"... for then shall be great affliction, such as has not occurred from The beginning of the world till now ..." (Matt. 24:21).
"Now immediately AFTER the affliction of those days [Ver. 21] the Sun ... moon ... stars ... powers of the heavens ... shaken ..." (Ver. 29).
"And THEN shall appear the sign of the Son of Mankind in heaven ... and They shall see the Son of Mankind COMING ..." (Ver. 30).
"And I will give miracles in the heavens above ... The sun shall be turned to darkness, And the moon to blood, BEFORE the coming of the day of Ieue [the Lord], the great and fearful day ... [Joel 2:30-31] ... For coming is The day of Ieue! ... A day of DARKNESS and GLOOMINESS, A day of CLOUDS and MURKINESS [Joel 1:1-2]."
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:
A. "... be protected during the coming affliction ..."
B. "... are rescued out of that time ..."
This is a mute argument. Either way God will keep all safe from the impending evils.
(14) Significantly, the 144,000 are not even sealed until just before the afflictions begin (Rev. 7:3), while Paul was rescued thousands of years ago (that is, he was assured of never having to undergo that period), and we, too, are presently enjoying the assurance of salvation from wrath (Rom.5:9).
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
(15) It is the second period we are interested in, the 1335 days, extending 75 days beyond the end of the great tribulation. It is at that time that Daniel will stand in his lot (Dan. 12:13). It may be this is the only passage in Scripture which directly relates the resurrection of faithful Israelites to the tribulation period. And here at least for Daniel, the resurrection occurs 75 days after the return of the Lord. There is no mention of a resurrection in Zechariah 14;1-5, Matthew 24:29-31 or Revelation 14;1-5, though it is often assumed that it is there. From the tape: ...such a thing [that there is a resurrection in view, though not directly stated] should NOT be assumed! (Emphasis mine).
ANSWER: Let’s read Dan. 12:13:
"Happy is he who will tarry and attain to the thousand three hundred and thirty-five  days! Now you, go on to the end, and you shall rest and stand up for your lot at the end of the days."
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.
"Now may the Lord cause you to increase and superabound in love for one another and for all, even, as we also for you, to establish your hearts unblamable in holiness in front of our God and Father, in the presence of our Lord Jesus with ALL His saints" (I Thes. 3:12-13).
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:
"Behold a day coming for the Lord God ... I will gather all nation to Jerusalem to battle ... Then the Lord shall fare forth and fight against those nations ... And His feet shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives ... And the Lord, my God, shall come."
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:
"And the Lord my God shall COME, And ALL THE SAINTS WITH HIM" (Verse 7)!
Matthew 24:29-31: "Now immediately after the affliction of those days ... the powers of the heavens shall be shaken...and they shall see the Son of Mankind COMING on the clouds of heaven ... And He shall be dispatching His messengers with a loud sounding trumpet, and they shall be assembling His CHOSEN from the four winds ..." Keyword Concordance p. 49, chosen, saints. P. 255, saint, See holy. P.146, holy, a saint.
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:
Rev. 11:15-18, "And the seventh messenger trumpets ... The kingdoms of this world became our Lord’s and His Christ’s, and He shall be reigning for the eons of the eons ... 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 ..."
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.
(16) The assembling of God’s chosen ones referred to in those passages is of those who have lived through the tribulation.
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).
(17) This is further evidence that Paul was making a new revelation in I Thessalonians 4:15, 17, when he states that the living will not precede the reposing believers in being caught up to meet the Lord. The rapture will occur for both living and resurrected saints "at the same time."
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,
"We all, indeed shall not be put to repose, yet we all shall be changed in an instant, in the twinkle of an eye, at the last trump. For He will be trumpeting, and the DEAD will be roused incorruptible, and WE [the "surviving"] shall be changed."
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.
Matt. 24 mentions a "Loud sounding trumpet."
I Thes. 4 mentions the "Trumpet of God."
II Thess. does not mention a trumpet at all, but it does mention being "Glorified in His saints," and none of the other references mention being glorified at all.
Rev. 11 mentions the "Seventh trumpet (which is the last trump of seven), but then
Rev. 19 doesn’t mention a trumpet. However, it does mention the "Armies of Heaven" and no other reference mentions the armies of heaven.
Matt. 24 mentions "His messengers."
I Thes. 4 mentions the "Chief Messenger."
II Thes. says Christ comes "With His powerful messengers.
Rev. 11 mentions "Messenger."
Rev. 19 mentions the "Armies of heaven [who are messengers]."
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
(18) In Matthew 24:31 the Lord’s return is in the company of angels even as His ascension from the Mount of Olives 50 days after the resurrection was in the presence of "two men in white apparel" (Acts 1:10). Yet Paul describes the Lord’s descent in I Thessalonians 4:16 as being "the Lord Himself." It was not necessary to add the pronoun, "Himself," unless the apostle wanted to point out a further unique feature of this event. There is indeed "the voice of the archangel," but it is the Lord Himself Who descends with that voice.
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."
- "Now at their speaking these things, Jesus Himself stood in THEIR midst and is saying to THEM, Peace to you!" Jesus stood by Himself ... in a GROUP!
- "And I hear a loud voice out of the throne saying, ‘Lo! The tabernacle of God is with MANKIND, and He shall be tabernacling with THEM, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be 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.
(19) Furthermore, there is a significant distinction in the location of this assembling. It is in the air (4:17) while the assembling described in Zechariah 14 and Revelation 14 is on the Mount of Olives.
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:
"And the Lord my God shall come, And all the saints WITH Him" (Zech. 14:7).
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:
- "And He shall be dispatching His messengers with a loud sounding trumpet, and they shall be assembling His chosen from the four WINDS ..." (Mat. 24:31). Webster’s wind, moving AIR! (Emphasis mine).
- "... and they shall see the Son of Mankind coming on the clouds of heaven with Power and much glory" (Mat. 24:30). Clouds are only found "in the air." Even fog is still "in the air." No clouds rise righter than "the air."
- Although it doesn’t actually say that Christ came from outer space to then be located on the clouds of heaven, many, nonetheless, assume such a thing. Regardless, wind is in heaven, clouds are in heaven, and air is in heaven. To come from any of them requires being "in the air." And as all astronauts know it is not possible to return to earth without going through "the air." There may be "holes" in the ozone, but there are no holes "in the air."
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.
"Thereupon we, the living who are surviving, shall at the same time be snatched away together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air." (I Thes. 4:17).
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."
- "Now in the middle of the night a clamor occurs: Lo! The bridegroom! Come out to meet [apatesis] Him!" (Matt. 25:6).
Comment: After they went out to meet the bridegroom, they didn’t stay outside, but rather they came back inside with the Bridegroom. Remember, it is "midnight" and it is dark--that’s why they took oil for their torches. They went out to meet the Bridegroom, then returned with Him to the house, and locked the door.
- When Christ began His entrance into Jerusalem (which was itself a type of His triumphant return to Jerusalem), many people went out with palm fronds to meet Him.
"On the morrow the vast throng, who are coming for the festival, hearing that Jesus is coming into Jerusalem, got fronds of palms and came out to meet [apatesis] Him" (John 12:13).
Needless to say, they did not return with Christ back to Bethany, but returned back into Jerusalem with Christ.
- When the saints in Rome heard of Paul’s soon arrival, they went out to meet him.
"And thence the brethren, hearing about us, come to meet [apatesis] us as far as Appii Forum and Three Taverrns, perceiving whom, Paul, thanking God, took courage. Now when we entered Rome" (Acts 28:15-16).
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!
(20) Later, Paul carries this revelation further along by explaining that our bodies will be changed to celestial bodies (I Cor. 15:42:53), for our citizenship is in the heavens (Phil. 3:20) while Abraham and his faithful descendants are promised a specific portion of the earth (Gen. 15:18-21). With regard to what kind of bodies the Patriarchs of the Old Testament will be given, the author states, ... of course they will have to be given bodies again, but to say that they will be that much different, they will still have to remain terrestrial bodies because their realm is terrestrial. So they will be bodies much greater than they had before, but still terrestrial in their nature, as ours will be celestial. (Emphasis mine).
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:
"Not all flesh is the same flesh, but there is one, indeed, of men yet another flesh of beasts, yet another flesh of flyers, yet another of fishes ..."
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 ...
"If there is a soulish body, there is a SPIRITUAL also. Thus it is written also, The first man, Adam, became a living soul; the last Adam a vivifying Spirit. But not first the spiritual, but the soulish, thereupon the SPIRITUAL. The first man was out of the earth, soilish; the second Man is the Lord out of heaven ..."
"Such as the soilish one is, such are those also who are soilish, and such as the Celestial One, such are those also who are celestial. And according as we wear the image of the soilish, we should be wearing the image also of the Celestial."
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?
TERRESTRIAL: Keyword Concordance, the earth and the heavens on it. Webster’s, worldly; mundane, of the earth, consisting of land not water, living on land.
CELESTIAL: Keyword Concordance, ON-heavens, that part of the universe which is ON, or higher than.Webster’s, heaven, of or in the sky or universe, of heaven; divine, perfect.
SPIRITUAL: Keyword Concordance, having the qualities of spirit. Webster"s, adj. 1 of the spirit, 2 of or consisting of spirit; not corporeal.
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 sown in corruption [soilish]; it is roused in incorruption.
It is sown in dishonor [soilish]; it is roused in glory.
It is sown in infirmity [soilish]; it is roused in power.
It is sown a soulish body [soilish]; it is roused a SPIRITUAL body.
"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
"... flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God."
Notice also that Paul says,
"Thus ALSO is the resurrection of the dead" (I Cor. 15:42).
The resurrection of the dead, not the resurrection of a division of saints at a "secret rapture." Now this,
"The first man, Adam, became a living soul; the last Adam a vivifying Spirit. But not first the spiritual, but the soulish, thereupon the spiritual." (Ver. 45-46).
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?
"Perceive what manner of love the Father has given us, that we maybe called children of God! And we are! Therefore the world does not know us, for it did not know Him. Beloved, now are we children of God, and it was not as yet manifested what we shall be. We are aware that, if He should be manifested, we shall be LIKE HIM, for we shall see Him according as He IS" (I John 3:1-3)!
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."
(21) Nevertheless, it is difficult to see how some who are not appointed to indignation and who are already rescued from its pathway would go through that period ["that period" meaning a time of great tribulation].
ANSWER: First of all, they have not been rescued (past tense). No one has been rescued 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.
(22) In addition, the pre-tribulation rapture theory harmonizes best with the whole of Paul’s writings. For example, in Ephesians 1:12, the phrase, "who first trusted in Christ," refers literally to "the ones having before-expected," or who are in a state of prior-expectancy. This is a very appropriate designation for us who have been made a new creation and who enter into the blessings of the future ages long before the rest of humanity and even before Israel.
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:
"Those who are Christ’s in His presence" and "Thereafter the consummation" (I Cor. 15:22-23).
All believers are in the first category, and are therefore "pre-expectant."
(22-B) Finally, there seems to be no purpose for those called in pure grace, not at all on the basis of their works or fleshly standing, to have anything to do with these latter days when vengeance is poured out on mankind because of their wicked deeds. Rather we may expect "rest" or "ease" with Paul and the Thessalonians when these times of darkness and distress come upon the earth (II Thess. 1:7, 8).
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:
"... you who are being afflicted, rest, with us [the ‘us’ are ALL the Saints, I Thes. 3:13], AT the unveiling of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful messengers, in flaming fire, dealing out vengeance ..." (II Thes. 1:7-8).
"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):
(23) The living ones are not going to outstrip those who are put to repose, and then he says, that we’re snatched away or raptured at the same time. Now why does Paul say that? I think we need to face that question. He’s really talking about those who have been put to repose, and now he makes a special effort to bring out this fact that the living ones are not going to precede or go ahead of, outstrip, those who have died. And when the rapture occurs, or the snatching away occurs. It is at the same time together. Now this I think is an important matter in the question of ‘when.’ ... now I think that this is clearly a new teaching. I don’t think we can find it outside of Paul’s writings.
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 mortal should be putting on immortality."
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,
"We are aware that, if He should be manifested, we shall be LIKE Him, for we shall see Him according as He is."
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.
(24) Paul’s message ... was really addressed to a distinct and unique body of believers ... and many of the things that Paul revealed were new, secrets.
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!
(25) It always has to be "the dead in Christ" either in the context or the nature of the case and it is not proved that ALL THE DEAD IN CHRIST of all administrations are in view in I Thes. 4 simply because Paul uses the expression "in Christ" or "the dead in Christ" because it is evident that it’s the dead in Christ of whom he is speaking--the CONTEXT the guiding factor.
The Lord ... tells Daniel ... Happy are those who wait or who tarry until certain, certain number of days. And the IMPLICATION there, it’s an IMPLICATION, it’s NOT a direct statement, but the IMPLICATION IS, if you subtract the 1260 days which are mentioned so often, from this figure, 1335 ... you come out with 75 days. In other words it is 75 days after the Lord returns and gathers the living ones, or EVIDENTLY IT IS. You read the book of Revelations too, and you see about the places where they are gathered together ... from all over from where they are scattered ... He gathers them to Himself. It doesn’t say that those are the dead ones or the reposing ones, but those are the ones who are LIVING. But happy are those whose part is in this resurrection which occurs some 75 days later--by IMPLICATION. (Emphasis mine).
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:
I Thes. 3:12-13, "Now may the Lord cause you to increase and superabound in love for one another and for all, even as we also for you, to establish your hearts unblamable in holiness in front of our God and Father, in the presence of our Lord Jesus with ALL His saints."
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.
- "Yet I was unknown by face to the ecclesias of JUDEA which are in Christ" (Gal. 1:22).
- "For you [Thessalonians] became imitators, brethren, of the ecclesias of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus" (I Thes. 2:14).
I submit that some of these thousands of saints in Judea, died daily.
Now move three inches across the page to I Thes. 3:13:
- "... establish your hearts unblamable in holiness in front of our God and Father, in the presence of our Lord Jesus with ALL His saints."
- "... for the Lord Himself will be descending from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the Chief Messenger, and with the Trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall be rising first" (I Thes. 4:16).
COMMENT: Among the "dead in Christ" (4:16), are some of "all the saints" (3:13) who include the very ecclesias in Judea that these Thessalonian saints obviously loved very much and even "IMITATED" (Ch . 2:14).
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.
(25) The assembling of the believers of whom Paul is speaking, to Christ, is without the element of alarm. 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 . (Emphasis his)
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,
"... you became imitators of us ... in much affliction..." [I Thes. 1:6]
"... For you suffered the same ..." [2:14] ...
"... all your persecutions and afflictions ..." [II Thes. 1:5]
" ... it is just of God to repay affliction to those afflicting you"
" ... you who are being afflicted ..." [Ver. 7], etc.
Were they "appointed" to these sufferings and afflictions? Yes they were,
"... we are located [appointed] for this" (I Thes. 3:3).
Are all the saints appointed to such suffering, persecution and affliction? Yes they are,
"Through many afflictions must we be entering into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).
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,
"... to deem you worthy of the kingdom of God ..." (II Thes. 1:4-5).
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
"... REST [ease] with us [Paul and "ALL the saints" I Thes. 3:13],
AT the unveiling of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful messengers ..." (II Thes. 1:7)!
(26) The living will by no means precede the dead into the presence of the Lord, but to the contrary, in fact the dead will be rising first and then the living will be changed and snatched away simultaneously with the dead in clouds to meet the Lord in the air ... and this is quite the opposite of Dan. 12. In that case and likewise in Matt. 24, the living do precede the dead. The living in Christ do precede the dead in Christ into His presence by 75 days, and Paul says concerning our gathering to be together with Him, that by no means will it be such a thing as that. Now that’s revelation of Scripture. That proves it, if you have the faith and the spirit of sensibility to accept it which many do not for whatever reasons they may have. If God graces you with light, hold on to it and endure in this message of grace, which really does show that our message is a different event for a different ecclesia [church], and it is a message for those, regardless of personal worthiness, justice, or goodness, who will be in the Lord’s presence at the time appointed for them.
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:
Now I also would say it’s helpful when we can come to clearly see that it’s those who are complete in Christ and not merely pardoned, but instead are justified in God’s grace, that we are not Israelites, we are not symbolic so called spiritual Israelites, and most of us at least are certainly not natural Israelites. Neither do we become naturalized Israelites by means of being proselytes. These things all have their place in the Scriptures, but they’re not our place. 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, then we can see that we don’t belong in Matt. 24 as to any expectation concerning us, and likewise, if we should drowse, whether we should be watching or drowsing, we may be living together at the same time with Him, with Christ, for God hasn’t appointed us to indignation, but to the procuring of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord and 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.
And certainly the resurrection that is spoken of in the so-called gospels or the accounts of the Lord’s ministry to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, is a resurrection of the just. Paul refers to it as a resurrection of the just in Acts 24:15. Or the Lord refers to it in a similar term as the resurrection of those who do good (Jn 5:29). He refers to it as the resurrection of those who are worthy to happen upon that resurrection (Luke 20:35). So it is one of being just, and being good, and it is spoken of as being the resurrection in the last day, Jn 11:24, by Lazaras’ sister. And, of course, this refers to the last day of Dan. 12:12--the 1335th day when Daniel will wait till that time and then he will stand in his lot in the end of those days. I would just say, that being personally just, obedient, faithful, worthy, and the like has NOTHING WHATEVER TO DO WITH OUR BEING PRESENT IN THAT DAY, whether we are drowsy or not, are spiritually asleep, if you will, for drowsy is no factor, while others such as in Matthew 25 who are drowsy will be locked out of the kingdom and prevented from entering in. Now these things are clear, and when we see that eonian life is a gracious gift for us apart from law, apart from any worthiness, or right living on our part, then we can see that we are not among those who MUST QUALIFY for a resurrection of the just, and good, and the worthy, and those who endure. But ours is, even if sin should be increasing, grace super exceeds so that even as sin reigns in death, thus also grace also should be reigning for life eonian through righteousness through Jesus Christ our Lord, Rom. 5:21, and that it isn’t a matter of anything of us, and this simply isn’t the case in the resurrection of the JUST, the WORTHY, the GOOD, spoken of in the portions of the Scriptures that are not a revelation of Paul’s evangel. (Emphasis mine). We will now answer this long statement in sections.
(27) "... those who are complete in Christ, and not merely pardoned ..."
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,
"... that they may be having My joy FILLED FULL in themselves" (John 17:13)!
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,
"And I have given them the GLORY which Thou hast given Me, that they may be ONE, according as We are One, I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be PERFECTED [Keyword Concordance, page. 221, ‘complete’] ..." (John 17:23)!
"... that you may be PERFECT and UNIMPAIRED, lacking in NOTHING [COMPLETE] (James 1:4)!
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,
"... in Whom [Christ] we are having the deliverance, the PARDON of sins."
"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.’"
Eph. 1:7, "... in Whom we are having the deliverance through His blood, the FORGIVENESS of offenses ..."
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,
"For the law through Moses was given; GRACE AND TRUTH came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).
Jesus Christ was armed with a whole arsenal of "grace and truth" before He ever "pardoned" the first Jewish sinner!
(28) ... we are not Israelites ... symbolic so-called spiritual Israelites ... natural Israelites ... naturalized Israelites ... These things all have their place in the Scriptures, but they are not our place.
ANSWER: Is it true that we have no place in these things and that, we are NOT Israelites? Paul told the Roman ecclesia (Gentiles),
"For not that which is apparent is the Jew, nor yet that which is apparent in flesh is circumcision; but that which is hidden IS the Jew, and circumcision is of the heart, in spirit [and we have this ‘circumcision not made by hands ... in Christ’ Col. 2:11-12], not in letter, whose applause is not of men, but of God" (Rom. 2:28:29).
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:
"... in Whom you [Gentiles] were circumcised also with a circumcision not made by hands [but in heart], in the stripping off of the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ" (Col. 2:10-11).
Yes we are spiritual Jews!
"... for not all those out of Israel, these are Israel; neither that Abraham’s seed are all children, but ‘In Isaac shall your seed be called.’ That is that the children of the flesh, NOT THESE are the children of God, but the children of the PROMISE is He reckoning for THE SEED" (Rom. 9:7-8).
We are the children of the promise, we are reckoned as the seed, we are SPIRITUAL ISRAEL.
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything, but a new creation. And WHOSOEVER shall observe the elements by this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, also upon the ISRAEL OF GOD" (Gal. 6:16).
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,
"... the saints shall judge the WORLD"
"... we [saints] shall be judging MESSENGERS" (I Cor. 6:2-3).
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:
"For even as the body is one and has many members, yet all the members of the one body, being many, ARE ONE BODY, THUS ALSO IS THE CHRIST. For in one spirit also we all are baptized into ONE BODY, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and ALL are made to imbibe ONE SPIRIT" (I Cor. 12:12-13).
All believers are "baptized into Christ" (Rom. 6:3), yet Paul says,
"For Christ does not commission me to be baptizing ..." I Cor. 1:17).
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,
"... WHOEVER are baptized (even without water) into Christ Jesus, are baptized into His death" (Rom. 6:3),
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.
"For if we [whoever--Jew or Greek] have become planted together in the likeness of His death, nevertheless we [whoever--Jews and Gentiles, circumcision and uncircumcision] shall be of THE resurrection also ..." (Rom. 6:5).
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.
"I am entreating you, then, the prisoner in the Lord, to walk worthily of the calling with which you are called, with all humility and meekness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit [imagine someone teaching that there is NOT a unity of spirit among Jewish saints and Gentile saints?] with the tie of peace; 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. 4:1-6)!
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:
- Some saints are saved by works of the law, and others are saved by grace through faith.
- Some saints have a post tribulation expectation, while other saints have a prior expectation even among God’s existing saints.
- Some saints will be sleeping at Christ coming cast out of the kingdom and other saints will be sleeping and not cast out..
- Some saints are of the day and of the light, and others are of the night and darkness.
- Some saints have to overcome, endure, do good works, and be just to be resurrected into the kingdom, and other saints don’t have to do anything.
- Some saints have to be baptized, circumcised, keep the Sabbath day, and obey the law of Moses to be saved and other saints don’t have to do anything.
- Some saints have to go through great trials and afflictions before being resurrected, and others are apparently spared all these afflictions and tribulations that Paul said we all have to go through, because some saints are not appointed to indignation.
- Some saints will be raptured away in a secret resurrection, while others will not be resurrected until much later in a time of terrible horrors.
- Some saints will be resurrected with beautiful, incorruptible, glorious, spiritual, immortal, celestial bodies, while the other saints will be resurrected with soilish, worldly, earthy, terrestrial bodies.
- Some saints will have a marvelous expectation and calling that is far superior to the lower inferior calling of other saints.
SONSHIP, GLORY, COVENANTS, LEGISLATION, DIVINE SERVICE, and PROMISES
(29) 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, then we can see that we don’t belong in Matt. 24 as to any expectation concerning us ...
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:
"... I myself wished to be anathema from Christ--for my brethren, my relatives according to the flesh, who are Israelites, whose is the SONSHIP and the GLORY and the COVENANTS and the LEGISLATION [the giving of the law] and the DIVINE SERVICE and the PROMISES ..."
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:
"For you [Gentile Romans] did not get slavery’s spirit to fear again, but you got the spirit of SONSHIP, in which we are crying, ‘Abba, Father!’ The spirit itself is testifying together with our spirit that WE are the children of God" (Rom. 8:15-16).
"For we are aware that the entire creation is groaning and travailing together until now. Yet not only so, but we ourselves also, who have the firstfruit of the spirit, we ourselves also, are groaning in ourselves, AWAITING THE SONSHIP, the deliverance of our body" (Rom. 8:22-23).
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!
"Now when the full time came, God delegates His Son, come of a woman, come under law, that He should be reclaiming those under law that we may be getting the place of a SON. Now, seeing that YOU ARE SONS, God delegates the spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying ‘Abba! Father!’ So that you are no longer a slave, but a SON. Now if a SON, an enjoyer also of an allotment from God, through Christ" (Gal. 4:5-7).
"For I am reckoning that the sufferings of the current era do not deserve the GLORY about to be revealed for us [Gentile Romans]" (Rom. 8:18).
Comment: "Glory" is not something exclusively for Jewish Saints only. So what is to be gained by denying these plain statements of Paul?
"For I accepted from the Lord, what I give over also to you [Gentiles in the Corinthian, Athens, church], that the Lord Jesus, in the night in which He was given up, took bread, and giving thanks, breaks it and said, ‘This is My body, broken for your sakes, This do for a recollection of Me. Similarly, the cup also, after dining, saying, ‘This cup is the NEW COVENANT in my blood. This DO, as often as you are drinking, for a recollection of Me" (I Cor. 11:23-25). We are indeed dispensers of a new covenant, "Who also makes us competent dispensers of A NEW COVENANT, not of the letter, but of the spirit, for the letter is killing, yet the spirit is vivifying" (II Cor. 3:6).
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
"... were, in that era, apart from Christ, being ALIENATED from the citizenship of Israel and guests of the promise COVENANTS, having no expectation, and without God in the world. Yet NOW, in Christ Jesus, you, who once are far off, are become near by the blood of Christ. Consequently, then, no longer are you guests and sojourners, but are FELLOW CITIZENS OF THE SAINTS and belong to the God’s family" (Eph. 2:12, 19).
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:
II Cor. 3:6, "Who also makes us competent dispensers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of THE SPIRIT, for the letter is killing, yet the spirit is vivifying."
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.
"I am entreating you, then, brethren, by the pities of God, to present your bodies a sacrifice, living, holy, well pleasing to God, your logical DIVINE SERVICE ..." (Rom. 12:1).
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."
"Beware of the maincision, for WE are the CIRCUMCISION who are offering divine service in the spirit of God ..." (Phil. 3:3).
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! "For not that which is apparent is the Jew, nor yet that which is apparent in flesh is circumcision; but that which is hidden IS THE JEW, and circumcision is of THE HEART, IN SPIRIT, not in letter, whose applause is not of men, but of God" (Rom. 2:29). 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.
"Now Paul, rising and gesturing with his hand, said, Men, Israelites ... He rouses David for their king ... From this one’s seed, God, according to the PROMISE, led to Israel a Savior, Jesus" (Acts 13:1, 22, 23).
Is it even necessary that I state that this same promised seed is also OUR Savior as well as Israel’s?
"Then Paul, stretching out his hand, made his defense ... And now, in expectation of the PROMISE which came by God to our fathers, I stand being judged ..." (Acts 26:1, 6).
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).
"... being fully assured also, that, what He has PROMISED, He is able to do also ... Now it was not written because of him [Abraham] only, that it is reckoned to him, but because of US also, to whom it is about to be reckoned, who are believing on Him ..." (Rom. 4:20, 23, 24).
The "promises" were first to Abraham, whose seed was to bless the whole world, and whose children we (gentile believers) are.
"Now if you [Galatian gentiles and you who are reading these words of life today] are Christ’s consequently you are OF Abraham’s seed, enjoyers of the allotment according to the PROMISE" (Gal. 3:29).
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!
(29) "... likewise, if we should drowse, whether we should be watching or drowsing, we may be living together at the same time with Him ..."
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?
(30) "... for God hasn’t appointed us to indignation, but to the procuring of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord ..."
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?
(31) "... and 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."
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.
(32) And certainly the resurrection that is spoken of in the so-called gospels or the accounts of the Lord’s ministry to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, is a resurrection of the just, Paul refers to it as a resurrection of the just in Acts 24:15
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,
"lo! We are turning to the nations" (Acts 13:46).
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:
"Yet I am avowing this to you, that, according to the way which they [his Jewish accusers] 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" (Acts 24:14-15).
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
"From those sleeping in the soil of the ground many shall awake, these to eonian life [the just] and these to reproach for eonian repulsion [the unjust]." (Dan 12:2).
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:
"Concerning the resurrection of the dead am I being judged today by you."
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).
Acts 26:6-8, "And now, in EXPECTATION of the promise which came by God to our father, I STAND BEING JUDGED ..."
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,
"And thus shall WE [including Paul] always be together with the Lord" (I Thes. 4:17).
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"
(33) I would just say, that being personally just, obedient, faithful, worthy and the like has nothing whatever to do with our being present in that day, whether we are drowsing or not, are spiritually asleep if you will, or drowsy is no factor, while others such as in Matt. 25 who are drowsy will be locked out of the kingdom and prevented from entering in.
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,
"... whether we may be watching or drowsing, we should be living at the same time together with Him"
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:
"We are not of the night nor of the darkness. Consequently, then, we may NOT be drowsing ... for those who are drowsing are drowsing at NIGHT ..." (I Thes. 5:6-7).
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,
"Consequently, then WE MAY NOT BE DROWSING, even as the rest, but we may BE WATCHING and be sober."
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:
"Then likened shall be the kingdom of the heavens to ten virgins, who, getting their torches, came out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were stupid and five prudent. For the stupid getting their torches got no oil with them, yet the prudent got oil in the crocks with their torches. Now, at the delaying of the bridegroom, THEY ALL NOD AND DROWSED. Now in the middle of the night a clamor occurs: ‘Lo! The bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then roused were ALL those virgins, and they adorn their torches. Now the stupid said to the prudent, ‘Give us of your oil, for our torches are going out. Yet the prudent answered, saying, ‘No, lest at some time there should not be sufficient for us and you. Go rather to those who are selling and buy for yourselves. Now, at their coming away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who are ready entered with him into the wedding festivities, and the door is locked. Now subsequently the rest of the virgins also coming, saying ‘Lord! Lord! Open to us!’ Yet he, answering, said, "verily, I am saying to you, I am not acquainted with you!"
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.
(34) Now these things are clear, and when we see that eonian life is a gracious gift for us apart from law, apart from any worthiness or right living on our part, then perhaps we can see that we are not among those who must QUALIFY for a resurrection of the JUST, the GOOD, and the WORTHY, and those who ENDURE. (Emphasis mine).
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:
- personally just
- must qualify
- be good
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:
"Now the JUST one by faith shall be living" (Rom. 1:17).
"Now that in law no one is being justified with God is evident, for the JUST one by faith shall be living. "For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is grave, whatever is JUST ... be taking these into account" (Phil. 4:8).
Elders are to be, "... hospitable, fond of that which is good, sane, JUST ..." (Titus 1:8).
"Children, be obeying your parents, in the Lord, for this is JUST" (Eph. 6:1).
"Masters, tender that which is JUST and equitable to your slaves ..." (Col. 4:1).
And, although, cited in the book of Matthew, it is the Gentile nations who receive eonian life partly because they are "just."
"Then the JUST will be answering Him .. .when did we ... in as much as you do it to one of these, the least of My brethren, you do it to Me ... yet the JUST into life eonian" (Mat. 25:37-46).
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:
"Jesus Christ, our Lord, through Whom we obtained grace and apostleship for faith-OBEDIENCE among all the nations" (Rom. 1:5).
"For I am not daring to speak any of what Christ does not effect through me for the OBEDIENCE of the nations, in word and work ..." (Rom. 15:18).
"... according to the injunction of the eonian God being made known to all nations for faith-OBEDIENCE ..." (Rom. 16:26).
"For I write also for this, that I may know your testedness, if you are OBEDIENT in all things" (II Cor. 2:9).
"For the weapons of our warfare are ... leading into captivity every apprehension into the OBEDIENCE of Christ, and having all in readiness to avenge every disobedience, whenever your OBEDIENCE may be completed" (II Cor. 10:4-6).
"... his slaves you are, whom you are obeying, whether of Sin for death, or of OBEDIENCE for righteousness" (Rom. 6:16).
"For your OBEDIENCE reached out to all" (Rom. 16:19).
"And his compassions for you are superabundantly more, having a recollection of the OBEDIENCE of you all, as, with fear and trembling you receive him" (II Cor. 7:15).
"Having confidence in your OBEDIENCE, I write to you" (Phil. 21).
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:
"Here, furthermore, it is being sought in administrators that any such may be found FAITHFUL" (I Cor. 4:2).
Lydia speaking to Paul: "If you have judged me to be FAITHFUL to the Lord, enter into my house and remain" (Acts 16:15).
"Therefore I send to you Timothy, who is my beloved and FAITHFUL child in the Lord ..." (I Cor. 4:17).
"Grateful am I to Him Who invigorates me, Christ Jesus, our Lord, for He deems me FAITHFUL ..." (I Tim. 1:12).
"Tychicus, the beloved brother and FAITHFUL servant in the Lord ..." (Eph. 6:22).
"All my affairs shall be made known to you by Tychicus, a beloved brother and FAITHFUL servant and fellow slave in the Lord ..." (Col. 4:7).
"Epaphras, our beloved fellow slave, who is a FAITHFUL dispenser of Christ for us ..." (Col..1:7).
"Onesimus, a FAITHFUL and beloved brother, who is one of you" (Col. 4:9).
"The wives, similarly, are to be grave, not adversaries, sober, FAITHFUL in all things" (I Tim. 3:11).
"And what things you hear from me through many witnesses, these commit to FAITHFUL men ..." (II Tim. 2:2).
Can anyone read all these Scriptures and not believe that Paul taught and believed in being FAITHFUL?
4. Paul’s teaching on being WORTHY:
"I am entreating you, then, I, the prisoner in the Lord, to walk WORTHILY of the calling ..." (Eph. 4:1).
"... you to walk WORTHILY of the Lord ..." (Col. 1:10).
"... attesting unto you to be walking WORTHILY of God ..." (I Thes. 2:12).
"... to deem you WORTHY of the kingdom of God ..." (II Thes. 2:5).
"... that our God should be counting you WORTHY of the calling ..." (II Thes. 1:11).
"Let elders who have presided ideally be counted WORTHY of double honor ..." (I Tim. 5:17).
"... let them deem their own owners WORTHY of all honor ..." (I Tim. 6:1)
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:
"... that those also who are QUALIFIED may be becoming apparent among you" (I Cor. 11:19).
"Endeavor to present yourself to God QUALIFIED as an unashamed worker ..." (II Tim. 2:15).
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:
"Yet not only so, but we may be glorying also in afflictions, having perceived that affliction is producing endurance, yet endurance TESTEDNESS, yet TESTEDNESS expectation" (Rom. 5:4).
"For I write also for this, that I may know your TESTEDNESS, if you are obedient in all things" (II Cor. 2:9).
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!
"... superabounding also through much thanksgiving, to God, through the TESTEDNESS of this dispensation" (II Thes. 9:13).
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,
"... because of the transcendent GRACE of God on you" (Ver. 14).
And also verse 15, "Now thanks be to God for His indescribable GRATUITY!"
But to suggest (or dogmatically teach) that these things are NOT for us, but for Israel ONLY, is totally unscriptural.
Paul speaking of Timothy: "Now you know his TESTEDNESS, that, as a child with a father, he slaves with me for the evangel" (Phil. 2:22).
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:
"... peace to every worker of GOOD ..." (Rom. 2:10).
"Abhorring that which is wicked, clinging to GOOD ..." (Rom. 12:9).
"Be not conquered by evil; but conquer evil with GOOD" ( Rom. 12:21).
"Do GOOD, and you will be having applause from it" (Rom. 13:3).
"Let not, then, your GOOD ..." (Rom. 14:16).
"For all of us must be manifested in front of the dais of Christ, that each should be requited for that which he puts into practice through the body, whether, GOOD or bad" (II Cor. 5:10).
"... you may be superabounding in every GOOD work ..." (II Cor. 9:8).
"... we are working for the GOOD of all ... (Gal. 6:10).
"For His achievement are we, being created in Christ Jesus for GOOD works ..." (Eph. 2:10).
"... being aware that, whatsoever GOOD each one should be doing ..." (Eph. 6:8).
"... you to walk worthily of the Lord for all pleasing, bearing fruit in every GOOD work ..." (Col. 1:10).
"... you may be warring the ideal warfare, having faith and a GOOD conscience ..." (I Tim. !:19).
"Similarly, women ... professing a reverence for God with GOOD works" ( I Tim. 2:10).
"... if she follows up with every GOOD work" (I Tim. 5:10).
"... useful to the Owner, made ready for every GOOD act" (II Tim. 2:21).
"... that the man of God may be equipped, fitted out for every GOOD act" (II Tim. 3:17).
"... be yielding, and to be ready for every GOOD work ..." (Titus 3:1).
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:
"... rejoicing in expectation, ENDURING affliction ..." Rom. 12:12).
"... yet is rejoicing together with the truth, is forgoing all, is believing all, is expecting all, is ENDURING all" (I Cor. 13:7).
"Therefore I am ENDURING all because of those who are chosen ..." (II Time. 2:10).
"For if we died together, we shall be living together also; if we are ENDURING, we shall be reigning together also ..." (II Tim. 2:12).
"... to those, indeed, who by ENDURANCE in good acts ..." (Rom. 2:7).
"... having perceived that affliction is producing ENDURANCE, yet ENDURANCE testedness ..." (Rom. 5:3-4).
"Now, if we are expecting what we are not observing, we are awaiting it with ENDURANCE" (Rom. 8:25).
"... in accord with the might of His glory, for all ENDURANCE ..." (Col. 1:11).
"... remembering your work of faith and toil of love and ENDURANCE ..." (I Thes. 1:3).
"... your ENDURANCE and faith in all your persecutions ..." (II Thess. 1:4).
"... yet pursue righteousness, devoutness, faith, love, with ENDURANCE ..." (I Tim. 6:11).
"... that through the ENDURANCE and the consolation of the scriptures we may have expectation" Rom. 15:4).
"Now may the God of ENDURANCE and consolation grant you to be mutually disposed to one another ..." (Rom. 15:5).
"... your consolation, which is operating in the ENDURANCE for your consolation ..." (II Cor. 1:6).
"... commending ourselves as servants of God, in much ENDURANCE ... (II Cor. 6:4).
"Indeed, the signs of an apostle are produced among you in all ENDURANCE (II Cor. 12:12).
"Now may the Lord be directing your hearts into the love of God and into the ENDURANCE of Christ" (II Thes. 3:5).
"Now you fully follow me in my teaching, motive, purpose, faith, patience, love, ENDURANCE, persecutions, sufferings ..." (II Tim. 3:10).
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 ...
(35) As far as the expression ‘the last trump’ is concerned and the common assumption that this must be referring to the seventh trumpet of Revelation, in the time of the plagues and severe judgments, I would only point out that there will be trumpets, of course, blown in the Messiah’s kingdom in the coming eon on this earth in the glorious kingdom of that day, and so it’s not absolutely the last trumpet, the seventh trumpet of Revelation as though there were to be no trumpets to follow. Likewise it is an expression that Paul is using without any association whatever with the day of the Lord in the Book of Revelation.
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.
(36) He [Paul] was not allowed to stay much more than three weeks [in Thessalonica], hence he had not many opportunities to teach those among the nations who had believed, what he later wrote to them. Had he done so, his revelations concerning the future would not have been at all agreeable to the Jews who might be present, for this epistle practically involves the REPUDIATIONS of Israel. (Page 8, Consolation in Expectation, emphasis mine).
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,
"... a VAST MULTITUDE of the reverent GREEKS, and of the foremost women NOT A FEW" (Acts. 17:4).
In addition to laboring at his tent-making trade, Paul also received contributions from the Philippians at the very time he was in Thessalonica:
"... not one ecclesia participates with me in the matter of giving and getting, except you only, for in Thessalonica also, you send, once and TWICE, to my need" (Phil. 4:14-15).
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),
"Now the JEWS, being jealous and taking to themselves some wicked men ... making up a mob, made a tumult in the city. Now, not finding them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the city magistrate, imploring that ‘Those who arise the inhabited earth to insurrection, these are present in this place also ... all these are committing things contravening the decrees of Caesar ... And obtaining bail from Jason and the rest, they release them. Now the brethren immediately send out both Paul and Silas BY NIGHT into Berea ..." So we don’t have to speculate as to what would have happened, "Had he done so ..."
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).
(37) Neither could these things find any record in the book of Acts at that time, for they go beyond the theme of that treatise, which closes, once the Jews among the nations finally reject the kingdom message. Most appropriately, this new revelation is made in writing, not to the few Jews in Thessalonica, but to the Gentiles. To them, in their sorrow, God is pleased to reveal a future coming of our Lord which was quite unknown to the prophets of old or to the disciples of our Lord on earth.
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.
(38) Most appropriately, this new revelation is made in writing, not to the few Jews in Thessalonica, but to the Gentiles. To them, in their sorrow, God is pleased to reveal a future coming of our Lord which was quite unknown to the prophets of old or to the disciples of our Lord on earth. And also that, "Neither could these things find any record in the book of Acts at that time, for they go beyond the theme of that treatise."
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:
... ready to be revealed in the LAST ERA ... (Ver 6)
... AT THE UNVEILING of Jesus Christ ... (Ver 8)
... AT THE UNVEILING of Jesus Christ ... (Ver 13
... manifested IN THE LAST TIMES because of you ... (Ver 20)
... your faith and EXPECTATION is to be in God ... (Ver. 21)
... God in the day of VISITATION ... (2:12)
... concerning the EXPECTATION in you ... (3:15)
... Now the CONSUMMATION of all is near ... (4:7)
... exulting in the UNVEILING of His glory ... (4:13)
... a participant of the GLORY ABOUT TO BE REVEALED ... (5:1)
... Who calls you into His EONIAN GLORY in Christ ... (5:10)
... into the EONIAN KINGDOM of our Lord ... II Pet. 1:11)
... we make known to you the power and PRESENCE of our Lord ... (Ver 16)
... in the DAY OF JUDGING ... (2:10)
... the last days scoffers ... saying, Where is the promise of His PRESENCE ... (3:4)
... the DAY OF JUDGING ... (Ver 7)
The Lord is not tardy as to the PROMISE ... (Ver 9)
... the Lord WILL BE ARRIVING as a thief ... (Ver 10)
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
I Cor. 1:4-8: I am thanking my God always concerning you over the grace of God which is being given you in Christ Jesus, for in everything are you enriched in Him, in all expression and all knowledge, according as the testimony of Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not deficient in any grace, AWAITING THE UNVEILING of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will be confirming you also unto the consummation, unimpeachable in the DAY OF THE LORD Jesus Christ ...
... in Christ shall all be vivified ... those who are Christ’s in His PRESENCE ... (15:33)
... in front of our Lord Jesus, in His PRESENCE (I Thes. 2:19)
... in the PRESENCE OF OUR LORD Jesus with ALL His saints. (I Thes. 3:13)
... the PRESENCE OF THE LORD ... (I Thes. 4:15)
... the DAY OF THE LORD is as a thief in the night ... (I Thes. 5:2)
... in the PRESENCE OF OUR LORD Jesus Christ! (I Thes. 5:23)
... at the UNVEILING OF THE LORD Jesus from heaven ... (II Thes. 1:7)
... the PRESENCE of the Lord Jesus Christ and our ASSEMBLING to Him ...(II Thes. 2:1)
... by the ADVENT of His PRESENCE ... (II Thes. 2:8)
... unto the ADVENT OF OUR LORD, Christ Jesus ... (I Tim. 6:14)
... through the ADVENT OF OUR SAVIOR, Christ Jesus ... (II Tim. 1:10)
... in accord with His ADVENT and His KINGDOM ... (II Tim. 4:1)
... but also to all who love His ADVENT ... (II Tim. 4:8)
Whenever Christ, our Life, should be MANIFESTED, then you also shall be MANIFESTED TOGETHER WITH HIM IN GLORY. (Col. 3:4)
... anticipating that happy EXPECTATION, even the ADVENT of the glory of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ ... (Titus 2:13)
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:
"Through Silvanus, a faithful brother, as I am reckoning, I write briefly to you entreating and deposing that this is the TRUE GRACE OF GOD, in which you are to stand." Notice that this is not some secondary grace that Peter is speaking of, but "the TRUE GRACE OF GOD."
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:
"... departing from Athens, he [apostle Paul] came to Corinth. And, finding a certain Jew named Acquila, a native of PONTUS ..." (Acts 18:1-2).
"Paul, an apostle ... to the ecclesias of GALATIA" (Gal. 1:2).
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,
"Yet you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a procured people ..." This sounds like it is to Jewish people. However, continue the verse, "... so that you should be recounting the virtues of Him Who calls you out of darkness into His marvelous light, who once were NOT A PEOPLE yet now are the people of God ..."
This sounds more like Gentiles. In speaking of the many evils of the nations, Peter says,
"... while they are thinking it strange of you not to race together into the same puddle of profligacy ..."
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,
"... in the last days scoffers will be coming with scoffing, going according to their own desires and saying, ‘Where is the PROMISE OF HIS PRESENCE? For since the fathers were put to repose, all is continuing thus from the beginning of creation.’" (II Peter 3:3-4).
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.
II Pet. 3:14-15: Wherefore, beloved, hoping for these things ..."
Comment: What things? Well certainly the twenty references to Christ’s return.
"... endeavor to be found by Him in peace, unspotted and flawless. And be deeming the patience of our Lord salvation ..."
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.
"... according as our beloved brother Paul ALSO WRITES TO YOU ..."
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,
"Through Silvanus a faithful brother [Paul’s companion], as I am reckoning, I write briefly to you, entreating and deposing that THIS IS THE TRUE GRACE OF GOD, IN WHICH YOU ARE TO STAND."
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.
"... as our beloved brother Paul also writes to you, according to the wisdom given to him, as also in ALL THE EPISTLES ..."
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!
"... in all the epistles [of Paul], speaking in them concerning THESE THINGS ..."
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:
"... in all the epistles, speaking in them concerning these things, in which are some things HARD TO APPREHEND ..."
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?
"... some things hard to apprehend, which the UNLEARNED and UNSTABLE are TWISTING, AS THE REST OF THE SCRIPTURES ALSO, to their own destruction."
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:
"You, then, beloved, knowing this before, be on your guard lest, being led away with the deception of the dissolute, you should be falling from your own steadfastness. Yet be GROWING IN GRACE AND IN KNOWLEDGE of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. to Him be glory now, as well as for the day of the eon. Amen
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:
"For in GRACE, through FAITH, are you SAVED, and this is not out of you; it is God’s approach present [or GIFT], NOT OF WORKS, lest anyone should be boasting" (Eph. 2:7).
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:
"Peter said to them, ‘Men! Brethren! You are versed in the fact that from the days at the beginning God chooses among you, that through MY MOUTH the nations are to hear the word of THE evangel and BELIEVE. And God, the Knower of hearts, testifies to them, giving the holy spirit according as to us also, and in NOTHING DISCRIMINATING BETWEEN US [JEWS] AND THEM [GENTILES], cleansing their hearts by FAITH. Why, then, are you now trying God, by placing A YOKE [Works of the Law] on the neck of the disciples which NEITHER OUR FATHERS NOR WE ARE STRONG ENOUGH TO BEAR? BUT THROUGH THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS WE ARE BELIEVING [THAT’S FAITH], TO BE SAVED IN THE MANNER EVEN AS THEY" (Acts 15:7-12)
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.
"But THROUGH THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS WE ARE BELIEVING, TO BE SAVED IN THE MANNER EVEN AS THEY."
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,
"Now may the Lord cause you to increase and superabound in love for one another and for all, even as we also for you, to establish your hearts unblamable in holiness in front of our God and Father, in the PRESENCE OF OUR LORD JESUS with ALL HIS SAINTS."
Zechariah (a prophet for the Jews) tells us the very same words in 14:7,
"And the Lord, my God, SHALL COME [presence], And ALL THE SAINTS WITH HIM" These are the SAME "ALL."
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
(39) "More than that, this ‘word of the Lord’ concerning our recall from death introduces A WEDGE between the recipients of Paul’s evangel and the Circumcision evangel [Peter’s] which eventually SPLIT THEM WIDE APART, so that, not only in their future expectation, but in ALL ELSE they constitute a distinct and DIFFERENT WORK OF GOD, dependent, not on Israel’s acceptance of the evangel, but on her rejection of God’s, Christ." (Capital emphasis are mine, italics are the authors).
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:
"Now the APOSTLES and the ELDERS were gathered to see about this matter ... Peter said to them ... through my mouth the nations are to hear the word of the evangel and believe. And God ... testifies to THEM [gentiles], giving the holy spirit according AS TO US ALSO, and in NOTHING DISCRIMINATING between US and THEM ... But through the GRACE OF THE LORD Jesus, WE are believing to BE SAVED, IN A MANNER EVEN AS THEY.
"Now the entire multitude hushes and they heard Barnabas and Paul unfolding whatever signs and miracles God does among the nations through them ...
"Wherefore I [James] decide NOT to be harassing those from the nations who are turning back to God, but to write an epistle to them to be abstaining from ceremonial pollution with idols, and prostitution, and what is strangled, and blood ...
"Then it seemed GOOD to the APOSTLES AND THE ELDERS, TOGETHER WITH THE WHOLE ECCLESIA ... WRITING THROUGH THEIR HAND ... The apostles and the elders and the brethren to the brethren ... REJOICE!
"Since, in fact, we hear that some coming out from us disturb you with words, dismantling your souls, whom WE GAVE NO ASSIGNMENT, it seems GOOD TO US, in coming to be of ONE ACCORD, choosing men, to send them to you with our BELOVED Barnabas and Paul, MEN WHO GIVE UP THEIR SOULS FOR THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ... FOR IT SEEMS good to the holy spirit and to us IN NOTHING TO BE PLACING ONE MORE BURDEN ON YOU SAVE THESE ESSENTIALS ... Farewell!" (Acts 15:6-27).
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,
"... endeavor to keep the UNITY of the spirit with the tie of PEACE: ONE body, and ONE spirit..."
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,
"... God gives them a spirit of stupor, eyes not to be observing, and ears not to be hearing, till this very day" (Rom. 11:8).
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.
(40) "Paul was not merely sent to the Uncircumcision with the same evangel as Peter, but he had an evangel of the Uncircumcision which DIFFERED in its scope, its contents, and its expectation, from that of the Circumcision." (Capital emphasis mine).
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?"
"But if ever we also, or a messenger out of heaven, should be bringing an evangel to you beside that which we bring to you, let him be anathema! As we have declared before and at present I am saying AGAIN, [this really IS serious] if anyone is bring you an evangel beside that which you accepted, let him be anathema!" (Gal. 1:8-9).
"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:
"If anyone is coming to you and is not bringing this teaching, be not taking him into your home, and say not to him, ‘Rejoice!’ For he who is saying to him to be rejoicing is participating in his WICKED ACTS."
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?
"Now, answering, Jesus said to him, ‘Happy are you Simon Bar-Jonah [Peter], for flesh and blood does not reveal it to you, but My Father Who is in the heavens. Now I, also, am saying to you that you are Peter, and on this rock will I be building My ecclesia [church], and gates of the unseen [hades] shall not be prevailing against it. I will be giving you the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and whatsoever you should be binding on the earth shall be those things having been bound in the heavens, and whatsoever you should be loosing on the earth shall be those having been loosed in the heavens" (Matt. 16:17-19).
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.
"‘He [Paul] who once was persecuting us, now is EVANGELIZING the faith which once he RAVAGED’ And they glorified God in me [Paul]" (Gal. 1:23-24). Paul was not ravaging Paul’s gospel. Paul was ravaging the Apostles gospel, and that is the VERY GOSPEL HE IS NOW "EVANGELIZING!"
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
(41) "In reading the Thessalonian letters let us always remember that the background is Paul’s heralding of the kingdom to the Jews. Then we will not be PERPLEXED BY THE MANY ALLUSIONS TO THAT WHICH CONCERNS THEM at the time of the end. Of THEIR OWN EXPECTATION they were ignorant, but not of the EXPECTATION OF ISRAEL."
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:
I Thes. 4:16, "... for the Lord Himself will be descending from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the Chief Messenger, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall be rising first. Thereupon we, the living who are surviving, shall at the same time be snatched away together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air."
Christ’s second coming--for Israel only:
I Thes. 5:2, "... the day of the Lord is as a thief in the night--thus is it coming."
The secret rapture--for Gentiles only:
I Thes. 5:4, "... Now, you brethren, are not in darkness, that the day may be overtaking you as a thief ..."
Christ’s second coming--for Israel only:
II Thes. 1:7, "... rest, with us, at the unveiling of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful messengers ..."
The secret rapture--for Gentiles only:
I Thes. 5:23, "Now may the God of peace Himself be hallowing you wholly; and may your unimpaired spirit and soul and body be kept blameless in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Christ’s second coming--for Israel only:
II Thes. 2:3, "... be not quickly shaken ... as that the day of the Lord is present"
The secret rapture--for Gentiles only:
II Thes. 2:1, "... for the sake of the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to Him."
Christ’s second coming--for Israel only:
II Thes. 2:9, "... whom the Lord Jesus will dispatch with the spirit of His mouth and will discard by the advent of His presence."
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:
I Cor. 1:7-8, "... awaiting the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will be confirming you also until the consummation, unimpeachable in the day our Lord Jesus Christ"
would be Christ’s second coming--for Israel only.
But I Cor. 15:51-52,
"We all, indeed shall not be put to repose, yet we all shall be changed, in an instant, in the twinkle of an eye, at the last trump. For He will be trumpeting, and the dead will be roused incorruptible, and we shall be changed"
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:
I CORINTHIANS 15:42-53
I THESSALONIANS 4:13-18
1. Roused in INCORRUPTIONVS
no INCORRUPTION mentioned
2. Roused in GLORYVS
no GLORY mentioned
3. Roused in POWERVS
no POWER mentioned
4. Roused a SPIRITUAL bodyVS
no SPIRITUAL body mentioned
5. Wearing image of CELESTIALVS
no CELESTIAL mentioned
6. We all shall be CHANGEDVS
no CHANGE mentioned
7. At the LAST trumpVS
does not say LAST trumpet
8. Says HE will be trumpetingVS
doesn’t say WHO will trumpet
9. Mortal puts on IMMORTALITYVS
IMMORTALITY not mentioned
10. No SHOUT of command mentionedVS
comes with SHOUT of command
11. No SNATCHING AWAY mentionedVS
are SNATCHED AWAY
12. No CLOUDS mentionedVS
snatched away in CLOUDS
13. No mention of meeting in the AIRVS
meet the Lord in the AIR
14. No mention of ALWAYS beingVS
always be TOGETHER with Lord with the LordHere 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,
"Now, whenever this corruptible should be putting on incorruption and this moral should be putting on immortality, then shall come to pass the word which is written,
‘Swallowed up was Death by Victory.
Where, O Death, is your victory?
Where, O Death, is your sting?’"
(42) The author of Consolation in Expectation states on p. 43, Paul did not tell us who wrote this or where it was written, so we do not know (emphases his). Page 43 again, IT IS ABSOLUTELY UNWARRANTED TO COMPARE THIS PASSAGE WITH ANY PART OF THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES in order to show any looseness or inaccuracy on Paul’s part. (Emphasis mine). Next the author admits that there are similar passages in the Hebrew Scriptures (namely Isiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14), but then contends that, If he [Paul] refers to any passages in the Hebrew Scriptures, it can only be those that DEAL WITH THE VIVIFICATION OF THE SAINTS IN ISRAEL in the DAY OF THE LORD. (Emphasis mine). He then says regarding these passages, Being narrow in their scope, they cannot be ‘quoted.’ They must be readjusted and enlarged to fit the greater revelation"
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,
"... WE [Paul and all the saints which includes Israel--I Thes. 3:13] shall be changed" (I Cor. 15:52).
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,
"... are FELLOW-CITIZENS of the saints and belong to God’s family, being built on the foundation of the apostles and PROPHETS ..." (Eph. 2:12 & 20).
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.
(43) "It declares that our bodies [in contrast with the circumcision saints] will not be raised SOILISH but CELESTIAL, not with BLOOD, but vivified directly by SPIRIT" And, "To the saints in Israel He will give TERRESTRIAL glory, to us CELESTIAL." And, "But this is not our calling! We will not be the LOWEST ON EARTH [with Israel], but the HIGHEST IN THE HEAVENS!" (Emphasis mine).
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."
(44) This new faith, which made the nations the peer of Israelites in an allotment UNUTTERABLY HIGHER than that which they will have upon the earth ..."
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.
(45) The living circumcision saints were warned by our Lord to be watching, for only those who watch will be TAKEN along when He comes to Israel. To them the Son of Mankind comes as a thief, and some will be received and OTHERS LEFT FOR JUDGMENT, as it was in the days of Noah (Matt. 24:37:51)." (Emphasis mine).
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?"
"For as they were in those days before the deluge, eating and drinking and marrying and taking in marriage until the day on which Noah entered into the ark, and did not know till the deluge came and takes them all AWAY, thus shall be the presence of the Son of Mankind" (Mat. 24:38-39).
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
"are gathered and burned in the fire" (Mat. 13:40).
"they will gather OUT of His Kingdom all things that offend ..." (Ver 41).
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)?
"Again the Kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea [multitudes of people, Rev. 17:15] and gathered of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad AWAY. So shall it be at the end of the age: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire ..." (Mat. 13:47-50).
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:
"The righteous shall never be REMOVED [or raptured]; and the wicked shall not inherit the earth" (Prove. 10:30).
"The righteous shall be recompensed in the EARTH [not raptured to heaven]" (Prov. 11:31).
"Take AWAY the dross from the silver ... Take AWAY the wicked from the King ..." (Prov. 25:4-5).
"They [the wicked] are as stubble before the wind, and as chaff that the storm carrieth AWAY " (Job 21:18).
"... take hold of the ends of the earth that the wicked might be shaken OUT of it" (John 38:13).
And finally, "... REMOVING those things that are shaken [the wicked] ... that those things that cannot be shaken [the righteous] may REMAIN ... accepting an unshakable kingdom ..." (Heb. 12:27-28).
Jesus said He was going to His Father IN HEAVEN to prepare a place for His apostles. Peter said that Christ,
"... 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 ..." (I Pet. 1:4-5).
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.
"... we have a building of God, a house not made by hands, eonian, IN THE HEAVENS." (II Cor. 5:1).
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,
"The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; but the EARTH hath He given to the children of men" (Psalm 115:6). One more, "... for we are your glorying (even as you also are ours) in THE DAY OF OUR LORD JESUS" (II Cor. 1:14).
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?
- "Or are you not aware that the saints shall judge THE WORLD? And if the world is being judged by you, are you unworthy of the least tribunals? Are you not aware that we shall be judging MESSENGERS, not to mention life’s affairs?" Notice that the same "you" and "we" are to judge the "world" AND "messengers." And the judging of messengers is linked with judging "life’s affairs." "Life’s affairs is not something going on in OUTER SPACE! Life’s affairs are things on the earth, which is the same location at which we will be "judging messengers!" And these two judgments are not separated by thousands of years.
- I have never gone into outer space, however, guess what? I have and still do wrestle creatures among the celestials! "... for it is not ours to wrestle with blood and flesh, but with the sovereignties, with the authorities, with the world mights of this darkness, with spiritual forces of wickedness AMONG THE CELESTIALS" (Eph. 6:12)! Now think for a moment, if we can right here and now, from the earth, wrestle with creatures among the celestials, why can’t we also judge and instruct them as well, FROM THE EARTH?
- When Christ returns to set up His kingdom on earth, He brings the place of authority or rulership that He has prepared for the apostles with Him so that "... where I am, YOU ALSO MAY BE" (John 14:3). During Christ’s reign on earth His apostles will be WITH THE LORD. Now notice I Thes. 4:17 where it is stated that when Christ returns to the Gentile saints "... thus shall we always be together WITH THE LORD ..." We also will be with the Lord on the earth, not in outer space.
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
Resurrection Judging/rewards Wind & Fire
Matt. 24:29-31Son of Man comesHeaven shaken, Sign of Son of Man in heavenAssembles His chosenLoud sounding trumpetHis messengersOn clouds The four winds [air]
I Thes 4:13-18Presence of the LordFrom heaven With a shoutDead in Christ, and we snatched away togetherTrumpet of GodChief MessengerIn clouds In the air
II Thes. 1:5-10Unveiling of the Lord Jesus Christ, Whenever He may be comingFrom heavenEase [rest] with us [Paul] Dealing out vengeance, Eonin extermination, Glorified in His saints, All who believe With His powerful messengersFlaming fire
I Cor 15:22-23
& 50-52In His presence Resurrection of dead, All changed, Dead roused incorrupt., Living changed, Mortal to immortalityAt the last trump
Rev. 11:15-18Christ reignsVoice in HeavenJudging the dead (era) Wages to: slaves, saints, prophets, those fearing, small and greatSeventh trumpet [the last trump], TrumpetsMessenger
Rev. 19:11-16Faithful & TrueHeaven opened [Christ] Rides White horseJudges and battles in righteousness Blade in His mouth, Smiting nations, Rod of iron Armies of heavenEyes are a flame of fireSo 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:
"Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall He make to understand DOCTRINE? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts [ready for solid foods and Paul would say]. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon LINE; HERE a little, and THERE a little" (Isa. 28:9-10).
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
"... MANY shall come from the east and the west [Gentiles], and shall sit down WITH Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the Kingdom of Heaven [not to some different calling at a different location]..." (Mat. 8:11-12).
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:
"And other sheep have I which are not of this fold. Those also I must be leading, and they will be hearing My voice, and there will be O-N-E FLOCK, ONE SHEPHERD" (John 10:16)!
Since our Lord says that there is "ONE flock and ONE Shepherd" who is man to SPLIT THEM INTO TWO?
"What GOD then, yokes together, let not MAN be SEPARATING" (Mat. 29:6)!
Paul told the Thessalonian Gentile (and Jewish) saints that they would all be
"... unblamable in holiness in front of our God and Father, in the presence of our Lord Jesus with ALL HIS SAINTS" (I Thes. 3:13)!
And Zechariah said,
"And the Lord, my God, shall come, And ALL THE SAINTS WITH HIM" (Zech. 14:7)!
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,
"For even as in Adam, ALL are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall ALL be vivified."
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
"Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, in which Thou hast given them to Me, that they be one, according as We are" (John 17:11)
"... That they all may be ONE" ... "That they also may be ONE in US..." (Ver 21),
"... that they may be ONE, according as We are ONE ... that they may be perfected in ONE ..." (Ver 22).
Later Paul taught us that,
"For even as, in one body, we have many members, yet all the members have not the same function, thus we, who are many, are ONE body in Christ ..." (Rom. 12:4).
Whoever is "IN Christ" is ONE--ONE body. For there is only ONE body:
"I am entreating you, then ... keep the unity of the spirit with the tie of peace: ONE BODY ..." (Eph. 4:1,3-4).
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.
"I am the true Grapevine, and My Father is the Farmer ... I am the Grapevine. You are the branches" (John 15:1 & 5).
Paul thoroughly explains this in a similar metaphor in Rom. 11.
"... if the root is holy, the boughs are also. Now if some of the boughs are broken out [the Jews], yet you, being a wild olive [Gentiles], are grafted among them [not on a different olive tree], and become JOINT participant [not a separate, different, more 'holier than thou’ group of saints] of the root and fatness of the olive, be not VAUNTING over the boughs. Yet if you are vaunting, you are not bearing the root, but the root you."
"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:
"But our future allotment will not simply be glorious. That would not be too strong a term for the allotment of Israel on the earth. OURS WILL BY FAR TRANSCEND IT." (Page 51, Consolation in Expectation).
"But this is not OUR calling! WE will not be the lowest on earth, BUT THE HIGHEST IN THE HEAVENS!" (Page 48).
"This new faith, which made the nations the peer of Israelites in an allotment UNUTTERABLY HIGHER than that which they will have upon the earth ..." (Page 51).
Notice what God says regarding such attitudes:
"Be NOT haughty, but fear. For if God spares not the natural boughs, neither will He be sparing YOU!" (Rom. 11:20-21).
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
"God locks up all together [both Jews and Gentiles] in stubbornness, that He should be merciful to ALL [Jews and Gentiles]" (Ver 32).
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 allotments] 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!
"Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!" The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints! Amen! (Rev. 22:20-21).