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    Monthly Archives: March 2012

    The Antichrist
    Introduction · Who He is · What He Does (Religious) / (Military) / (Persecution) / (Other) · His End · And Apparently · Related Articles

    AKA, – the little horn, the despicable person, the man of lawlessness, the beast

    Dan. 2:33-35, 41-45; 7:7-8, 11, 17-26; 8:9-14, 23-25; 9:26-27; 11:21-45; 12:7; Matt. 24:9, 15; 2 Thess.2:3-10; 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7; Rev. 12:13, 17; 13; 14:9, 11; 16:2; 17-18; 19:19-20; 20:4

    * – Dan. 8:9-14, 23-25; 11:21-35, some scholars apply these passages only to Antiochus Epiphanes

    Introduction

    The purpose of this study was to collect all of the information that the Bible gives us about the antichrist and to organize it by topic. This could one day serve as a checklist when a leader arises who looks as though he may be the man. I have attempted to answer the simple question, “What does the Bible tell us about this person?” I have endeavored to simply collect and present the Biblical data and to refrain from extrapolating too far from what the Bible actually says. However, I do give clarification, alternate translations and sometimes even my own opinion in the parenthesis. When I have given something which is very questionable, it is followed with a question mark.

    I have also attempted to be exhaustive in this list. If anyone knows of anything the Bible actually says or even implies about the antichrist which I have not included, please feel free to email me (with the scripture references) at WmArnold@apostolic.net.

    I am aware that there is some overlap in the “What He Does” categories (and possibly some others). For instance, making war against Jesus Christ (Rev. 17:14 and 19:19) would qualify as both religious and military. In these instances, I have simply put things where I thought they fit best. The categories are simply there to help give some organization to this information and are by no means inspired. For a list which follows more of the order which this information is found in the Bible (which is much better for teaching), click here. Within the various topics, the data is usually organized by where it appears in scripture. When the same thing is mentioned in more than one passage, I usually went by the first passage in which it is found, but sometimes by the one which I thought to be more relevant.

    I have also listed the passages which some scholars apply only to Antiochus Epiphanes and not to the end time antichrist, although I do not believe their case is very convincing. I merely want to be up front that there are many scholars who hold this position.

    Who He Is

    Will be terrifying (causing fear) and dreadful (terrible), Dan. 7:7, also 7:19
    Will have “eyes like the eyes of a man” (?), Dan. 7:8, also 7:20
    Will “arise from the earth” (be a genuine human being?), Dan. 7:17
    Appeared “larger in appearance than his associates” (physical stature?, strength?, power?) to Daniel, Dan. 7:20
    Will be different from the other kings and his kingdom will be different from the other kingdoms, Dan. 7:23-24 also 7:7, 7:19
    Will be “strong of face” (fierce countenance, insolent – NASB), Dan. 8:23
    Will understand chiydah (dark sentences, biblical prophecy? – see Num. 12:6-8), Dan. 8:23
    Will be very strong (powerful), but from someone else, Dan. 8:24, see also 7:7; 2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 13:2, 13:4
    Will be prudent (shrewd, wise, understanding), Dan. 8:25
    Will be a despicable (contemptible) person, Dan. 11:21
    Will not have the honor of royalty (not be of a royal family?), Dan. 11:21
    Will have his heart bent on evil, Dan. 11:27
    Will not regard the “desire of women” (will be homosexual, will not care about what women want) or possibly will not regard the “god desired by women” (so NLT, NIV, NRSV, NAB, NJB), Dan. 11:37
    Will be a “man of lawlessness,” 2 Thess. 2:3, 2:8, see also Matt. 24:12; 2 Thess. 2:7
    Is presently being restrained until the proper time, 2 Thess. 2:6-8
    “Was and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss” (resurrection, reincarnation?), Rev. 17:8, see also 11:7
    Will be an eighth king, yet one of the seven, Rev. 17:11

    What He Does

    Religious

    Will speak against (blaspheme) God, his name and his tabernacle (those who dwell in heaven), Dan. 7:25; 11:36; Rev. 13:5-6, also Rev. 13:1
    Will gabar berith (confirm a covenant, KJV, NIV, NKJV or make a firm covenant, NASB, NLT, NRSV) with many for seven years, Dan. 9:27
    Will put and end to sacrifice and offering 3 ½ years into this covenant, Dan. 9:27 also 11:31; 12:11
    Will be against the holy covenant, Dan. 11:28, 11:30
    Will flatter and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant, Dan. 11:30, 11:32
    Will defile (desecrate, pollute) the sanctuary fortress (temple of God?), Dan. 11:31
    Will exalt himself above every god, Dan. 11:36-37; 2 Thess. 2:4
    Will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or any other god, Dan. 11:37
    Will honor a god of fortresses (strongholds) whom his fathers did not know, Dan. 11:38
    Will “take his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God,” 2 Thess. 2:4
    Will come “in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,” 2 Thess. 2:9
    Will deny that Jesus is the Christ, thus denying the Father also, 1 John 2:22, also 4:3
    Will deny that Jesus came in the flesh, 2 John 7
    Will derive get his power, throne and great authority from the Devil, Rev. 13:2
    Will appear to die and come back to life (a resurrection), Rev. 13:3, 13:12, 13:14 and possibly 11:7; 17:8
    Will cause the whole earth to marvel and follow him, whose names are not in the book of life, Rev. 13:3; 17:8
    Will be worshipped by all who dwell on the earth, whose names are not in the book of life, Rev. 13:4, 13:8, 13:12, also 14:9, 14:11; 20:4
    Will set up an idol of himself (abomination of desolation) in the “holy place” (temple of God), which will also be worshipped, Rev. 13:14-15; Matt. 24:15, also Dan. 11:31; 12:11; Rev. 14:9, 14:11; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4
    Will cause the world to buy and sell with a mark on their right hands or their foreheads, Rev. 13:16-18, also 16:2; 19:20; 20:4
    Will apparently have a very close association with Jerusalem, Rev. 17:3 (see my article on the identity of Babylon)

    Military

    His kingdom will be partly strong and partly weak, Dan. 2:42-43
    Will destroy exceedingly, Dan. 8:24, also 7:7, 7:19, 7:23; 11:44 and possibly 9:26-27
    Will destroy mighty men (powerful leaders?), Dan. 8:24
    Will come in and destroy many while they are at ease (unexpectedly), Dan. 8:25, 11:21, 11:24
    Will stand against (oppose) the Prince of Princes, Dan. 8:25; will wage war against the lamb, Rev. 17:14, also 19:19
    Will shamam (make desolate, or possibly, cause horror, so NAB), Dan. 9:27
    Will obtain the kingdom by intrigue (flattery), Dan. 11:21
    Will have great armies swept away and broken before him, Dan. 11:22
    Will act deceitfully (treacherously) after making an alliance, Dan. 11:23
    Will become strong with a “small people” (small number of people?), Dan. 11:23
    Will take over the richest areas of the province, Dan. 11:24
    Will share the booty with his followers, which his fathers never did, Dan. 11:24
    Will devise plans against strongholds, but only for a time, Dan. 11:24
    Will lie to the king of the south, Dan. 11:27
    Will devour (conquer, take over) the whole earth, Dan. 7:23, also 7:7, 7:19
    Will destroy 3 of 10 kings, Dan. 7:8, 7:20, 7:24
    Will attack the strongest fortresses with the help of foreign god, Dan. 11:39
    Will give honor to those who acknowledge him and will make them rulers, Dan. 11:39
    Will distribute the land “at a price” or possibly “for a reward” (so NLT, NAB), Dan. 11:39
    Will be attacked by the king of the south and the king of the north at the time of the end, Dan. 11:40
    Will invade the “glorious land” (Israel), Dan. 11:41
    Will not be able to conquer Edom, Moab and “the foremost of the sons” (leaders, prominent people) of Ammon (these countries would appear to be present day Jordan), Dan. 11:41
    Will conquer Egypt and other countries, Dan. 11:42
    Will have the Lybians and Ethiopians “at his steps” (following his steps or possibly under his feet-in submission) after conquering Egypt, Dan. 11:43
    Will place the “tents of his palace” “between the seas and the beautiful holy mountain” (NASB, NLT, NRSV, NKJV, NAB, NJB) or possibly “between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain” (KJV & NIV), Dan. 11:45, see also Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4, Rev. 17:3
    Will appear undefeatable, Rev. 13:4
    Will be given authority over every tribe, people, tongue and nation, Rev. 13:7
    Will be given the power and authority of the ten kings, Rev. 17:13, 17:17

    Persecution
    Will “wear out” the saints, Dan. 7:25; will “shatter the hand” (power, strength, will?) of the saints, Dan. 12:7
    Will be permitted to persecute the saints, “make war” with them and overcome them for 3 ½ years, Dan. 7:21, 7:25; Rev. 13:5, 13:7, also Dan. 12:7
    Will destroy (kill) the saints, Dan. 8:24 also Matt. 24:9
    Will conduct the worst persecution the world has ever known, Matt. 24:21; Mark 13:19, also Dan. 12:1
    Will make war with the two witnesses, overcome them and kill them, Rev. 11:7
    Will persecute Israel, Rev. 12:13
    Will make war with the Christians and kill them, Rev. 12:17; 20:4, see also 7:14; 12:11; 14:12-13; 17:6

    Other
    Will “prosper and do” (will be successful & perform his will), Dan. 8:24, also 11:36
    Will cause deceit (a lie, treachery) to prosper, Dan. 8:25, also 2 Thess. 2:10
    Will magnify himself in his heart, Dan. 8:25 and possibly 8:11
    Will speak “great things” (boasting), Dan. 7:8, 7:20; Rev. 13:5
    Will intend to make changes “in times and in law,” Dan. 7:25
    Will do as he pleases, Dan. 11:36, also 8:24

    His End

    Will have his dominion “taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever,” Dan. 7:26
    Will be broken (destroyed) “without hand” (human agency), Dan. 8:25, also 2:34, 2:45
    Will be destroyed by those who eat his food, Dan. 11:26 (perhaps this refers to destroying his reign or authority, so NLT – “bring his downfall,” see also, NIV – “try to destroy him,” NAB – “seek to destroy him,” NJB – “ruin him”)
    Will be helped by no one when he comes to his end, Dan. 11:45
    Is destined for destruction, Rev. 17:8, 17:11, and possibly 2 Thess. 2:3
    Will be destroyed by the Lord with “the breath of his mouth,” 2 Thess. 2:8
    Will apparently be the first occupant of the lake of fire, Rev. 19:20, also Dan. 7:11

    And Apparently

    Will be Roman, Dan. 9:26, also 2:33-34, 2:40-43; 7:7-8
    Will purport to be Israel’s messiah (may also imply that he is Jewish), Matt. 24:24; Mark 13:22; 1 John 2:18, 2:22; 4:3; 2 John 7
    Will be very persuasive, Dan. 7:8, 7:20; 8:25; Rev. 13:3, 13:5; 17:8
    Appears to reign from Jerusalem, 2 Thess. 2:4, Rev. 17:3, and see Matt. 24:15; Dan. 11:45 (KJV & NIV)
    Will have a “false Elijah” to pave his way (thus implying that he is the Christ), Rev. 13:11-15; 16:13; 19:20; 20:10, see also Matt. 24:11, 24:24; Mark 13:22 (for the expectation of Elijah with the coming of the Messiah, see Mal. 4:5; Matt. 11:14; 17:10-13; Mark 9:11-13; Luke 1:17; Rev. 11:3-6)

    Related Articles:

    Will the Antichrist Be A Jew?
    The Abomination of Desolation
    An Overview of Daniel’s First Vision (Daniel 7)

    3. Order and Scope of the Book of Revelation

    Introduction · Does This Book Apply to Us? · Various Opinions on the Order · A Biblical Approach · Literary Flow vs. Chronological Order · Not Appointed to Wrath?

    Introduction

    Attempt to understand the book of Revelation has given rise to a great deal of controversy. I think it is because of this controversy and the variety of opinions surrounding this book that so many ministers avoid it altogether. This is very sad because it is the only book in the Bible which gives a specific blessing to him “who reads and those who hear” its words (1:3), and it is an epistle written to the church (v. 4). The questions I want to address in this chapter are as follows: Does this book apply to us? What is its order? When does God’s wrath take place?

    Does This Book Apply to Us?

    First, I would simply like to point out that the book of Revelation is an epistle, written to churches. It begins with the same customary greeting usually found in the other epistles (1:4) and ends with an exhortation as usual (22:10-21). The first verse states that the purpose of this book is to show God’s servants the “things which must shortly take place” (1:1). Then three verses later we read, “John to the seven churches that are in Asia” (1:4). It seems that, in context, the servants he is referring to are those in the churches. Seven times Jesus exhorts us to “hear what the spirit says to the churches” and then follows by “to him who overcomes . . .” It seems to me that in the remaining chapters he goes on to describe what it is we are to overcome (the Great Tribulation). Even in the final chapter of the book Jesus again states its purpose, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches” (22:16). It just seems logical to conclude that the events written in this book are for the church.

    Various Opinions on the Order

    The opinions range from a strict chronology to the idea that there is no sequence of events whatsoever. The first view is easily dismissed. For instance, Revelation 14:1 has Jesus standing on Mount Zion with the 144,000 Jews when the bowls are still yet to come in chapter 16 and his return in chapter 19. Revelation 11:15-19 states that Jesus has now received the kingdom and begun to reign, that the time for the dead to be judged has come, and that it is time to destroy those who destroy the earth. All of these are events which take place after the Tribulation. Revelation 7:15-17 seems to depict eternity (compare to 21:3-7). Revelation 10:7 states that with the seventh trumpet “the mystery of God is finished.” In 13:1 John first sees the Beast coming out of the sea which would be very difficult to reconcile with what has been going on if this is when he first appears (especially chapter 12). Revelation 12:4 is best understood as taking place in eternity past with verse 5 as a reference to the birth and ascension of Christ (although some would understand it differently). Revelation 14:17-20 describes the harvest by the angels which Jesus said would take place at the “end of the age” (Matt. 13:39). Both 14:8 and 18:2 describe the fall of Babylon as if it has just taken place. Revelation 6:12-14 describes the great cosmic signs which Jesus said would take place “after the tribulation” (Matt. 24:29). And both 6:14 and 16:20 describe the disappearance of all mountains and islands.

    Among those who fall between a strict chronology and the idea of no sequence whatsoever, there are two major schools of thought concerning how to understand the order of the book of Revelation. The first is the view which sees the seals, trumpets, and bowls as sequential with some of the events in between as being interruptions of this order. The second view sees the seals, trumpets, and vials as all leading up to the end. It sees this as the same story told from different points of view, similar to the different accounts in the gospels. Each time John describes events that lead up to the return of the Lord and the end of the age from a different perspective.

    A Biblical Approach

    Now the difference between these two views is very important to the discussion. I will attempt to show that the second is to be preferred. This is based primarily on the similarity of events described towards the end of the seals, trumpets, and bowls as demonstrated in the following chart:

    Sixth and Seventh Seal

    Sixth and Seventh Trumpet

    Seventh Bowl

    1. A great earthquake

    2. Voices, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake

    3. Angel cried with a loud voice

    4. Every mountain and island taken out of their way

    5. —

    6. —

    7. Day of his wrath is come

    8. Silence in heaven

    9. Great multitude in heaven

    10. —

    1. A great earthquake

    2. Lightnings, voices, thunderings and an earthquake

    3. Great voices in heaven

    4. —

    5. Great hail

    6. Temple opened; voices heard

    7. Thy wrath is come

    8. Mystery of God is finished

    9. Time of the dead

    10. Kingdom given to Christ

    1. A great earthquake

    2. Voices, thunders, lightnings and a great earthquake

    3. Great voice from heaven

    4. Every island fled away and the mountains were not found

    5. Great hail

    6. Great voice out of the temple

    7. Fierceness of his wrath

    8. “It is done”

    9. First resurrection (ch. 20)

    10. Christ reigns 1,000 yrs (ch. 20)

    Although some of these are debatable there seems to me to be overwhelming evidence here linking these events. The most logical understanding is that these are describing the same events with some giving more details and some leaving out details. This is more plausible than the idea that all these things take place multiple times. We could look at several of these events, but I want to focus on one in particular: I grew up on an island. Imagine that every island on the planet disappears. Now imagine that every mountain is leveled. Think about it: THIS CANNOT HAPPEN TWICE! Mountains and islands do not “grow back” after five or six years. If nothing else, at least these must both describe the same event.

    Not only do these events parallel each other, but they parallel other passages. For instance, the sixth seal parallels the description of the end by both Jesus and Joel:

    Joel (Joel 2)

    Jesus (Matt. 24)

    John (Rev. 6)

    1. In the last days (Acts 2:17)

    2. Sun into darkness, moon into blood

    3, 4. Wonders in heaven . . .

    5. . . . and in the earth

    6. Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD

    1. After the tribulation

    2. Sun darkened, moon does not give its light

    3. Stars fall from heaven

    4. Powers of the heavens shaken

    5. —

    6. Then the Son of Man appears in the sky

    1. At the sixth seal

    2. Sun became black, moon like blood

    3. Stars of heaven fell to earth

    4. Sky receded as a scroll

    5. Mountains, islands disappear

    6. Jesus is seen / day of his wrath has come

    Jesus plainly states that the great cosmic signs would take place “after the tribulation.” John has them occurring at the sixth seal. We must therefore conclude that at least the sixth seal is after the Tribulation. Furthermore, the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15-19) clearly describes the end and is said to finish the mystery of God (10:7) as was already stated.1 Also, as John is approaching the seventh trumpet he is told that he “must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings” (10:11). This leads me to believe that the sixth and seventh trumpets bring us to the end, and then John starts back over from a different perspective listing different events with the bowls.2 Finally, it seems likely that this seventh trumpet parallels Paul’s last trumpet in 1 Corinthians 15:52 and Jesus’ trumpet in Matthew 24:31.

    Literary Flow vs. Chronological Order

    Although I do not see a strict chronology, I do see a literary flow of the book of Revelation (characters are usually introduced into the story before they are discussed, such as the 144,000 in chapter 7 and the great harlot in chapter 17). This order may seem strange to us, but it is not foreign to other passages in the Bible and fits very well with the Semitic style of the book. In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus describes the first 3 ½ years (beginning of sorrows) followed by the second 3 ½ years (Tribulation) and finishes with the coming of the end (Matt. 24:4-14). Then he returns to discuss the midpoint in verse 15 and the second 3 ½ year period again in verse 21. This is similar to the story of creation in Genesis 1 and 2. Moses tells the whole story and then returns to expound on the creation of man in more detail. This is how I understand the seals, trumpets, and vials. They are increasingly more telescopic of events leading up to the end.

    Not Appointed to Wrath?

    A major tenet of pre-tribulationism is based on exemption from divine wrath. Passages such as Romans 5:9 and 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9 teach that God has spared believers from his orge (wrath) which he will pour out on unbelievers. The question then becomes, “When does the orge of God take place?” If we accept the order of Revelation laid out in the preceding section, then it only takes place after the Tribulation. This word is found only six times in the book, and it is always used in a post-tribulational setting.3 It accompanies the cosmic signs and revealing of the Lord at the sixth seal (6:16, 17); it is found after the seventh trumpet (11:18); it is used to describe the final torment of unbelievers in hell (14:10); it is found after the seventh bowl (16:19); and it is used in connection with Christ’s second coming (19:15). Therefore, there is no problem reconciling the promise of deliverance from God’s orge with a post-tribulational rapture. Every time this promise is made, this word orge is used. If the orge does not take place until after the tribulation is over and the church is raptured, then God’s promise is kept.

    Also, as Romans 5:9 points out, exemption from God’s wrath is not some unique, special promise to the church but is connected with salvation and justification. The reason we are spared from God’s wrath is because Jesus paid the penalty for us. If there will be Christians on the earth during this time period then they, too, would be exempt from God’s wrath. These so-called “tribulational saints” are said to: “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (7:14); overcome by “the blood of the Lamb” (12:11); “hold the testimony of Jesus” (12:17); “keep their faith in Jesus” (14:12); “die in the Lord” (14:13);4 be “witnesses of Jesus” (17:6); be “beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus” (20:4); and possibly be our “fellow servants and brethren” (6:11) if you include the church with “those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained” (6:9). These people are Christians in every sense of the word. Concerning the body of Christ, Paul says “that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Cor. 12:26-27 ). One of the most troubling teachings of pre-tribulationism to me is a divided body of Christians with some on earth suffering while the rest of us just watch from a safe distance.5

    Some would still object because they see God doing things throughout the Tribulation. My response to this is twofold. First, I do admit that some of these “plagues”6 seem too universal for believers not to be affected. Israel felt the effects of the first three plagues while they were in Egypt, but God was pouring out his wrath on the Egyptians, not them. Noah was at least inconvenienced by the effects of the flood. Did God pour out his wrath on Noah? Or did God spare Noah? (2 Peter 2:5) Lot was affected by God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, but he, too, was the object of salvation, not wrath (2 Peter 2:7).

    Second, as was the case with Israel in Egypt, we do see God being selective at times. One place this is seen is when the bowls are poured out. The first is said specifically to affect those who had received the mark of the beast and worshipped his image (16:2), the third bowl is said to be for those who killed the saints and the prophets (vs. 5-7), the fourth results in men blaspheming God and not repenting of their deeds (v. 9) and the fifth is poured out on the throne of the beast (v. 10). These things are shown to be aimed at sinners, not believers.7

    Footnotes

    1. Compare to Daniel 9:24, where the completion of the seventieth week is said to “seal up vision and prophecy.” <back>
    2. Even pre-tribulationist J. Dwight Pentecost recognizes this point, cf. J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 187-188. <back>
    3. The word thumos is also translated “wrath” and is found in places such as chapter 16. This will be discussed in chapter 5. <back>
    4. Compare to the rapture passage where Paul says that the “dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess. 4:16). <back>
    5. Pentecost appeals to this same passage to refute the partial-rapture theory which he says “dismembers the body” and “is impossible” but then has no problem with the church in heaven while “tribulational saints” are on the earth suffering, cf. Things to Come, p. 160, 212. <back>
    6. This is what the book of Revelation calls them (9:18, 20; 11:6; 15:1, 6, 8; 16:9, 21; 18:4, 8; 21:9; 22:18). <back>
    7. For a further discussion of wrath, see chapter 5, Wrath. <back>

    2. The Biblical Basis for Post-Tribulationism

    One Rapture Passage · “The Rapture,” a bad term? · 1 Thess 4:15-17 · 2 Thess 1:5-10 · 2 Thess 2:1-3 · Rev 20:4 · 1 Cor 15:50-55 · Matt 24:29-31 · Luke 17:26-31 · 2 Peter 3:8-15

    One Rapture Passage

    If we are going to try to decide when the rapture takes place then we must first go to the rapture passages and see what the Bible actually has to say about this event. Naturally, if we want to know when this event will take place we should look where it is discussed. The problem is that there is only one “rapture passage” in the Bible: 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Only Paul mentions the church being caught up in the air, and he only says it in this one passage. Therefore, this must be foundational to any discussion of the rapture. Since this is the only place in Scripture where the rapture is mentioned, all other passages that are taken to be “rapture passages” must have some connection to this verse. In other words, how would someone claim another passage as a “rapture passage,” without first proving that the same event is being described as is in the one rapture passage in the Bible? This is very significant to the discussion, because the next closest passage to this one is Matthew 24:27-31, which specifically states that it takes place “after the tribulation.”

    Another passage that is commonly referred to as a “rapture passage” is 1 Corinthians 15:52. Although I would agree that this is describing the same event, the rapture is not specifically mentioned here. The reason we connect the two is because similar events are mentioned. Both passages mention a trumpet and the resurrection of believers. Because of this, we conclude that these are both the same event. However, as I already mentioned, Matthew 24:27-31 has much more in common with the one clear rapture passage. Notice the similarities:

    Matt. 24:27-31

    1 Thess. 4:15-17

    1 Cor. 15:52

    1. Called he parousia, “the coming” (27)

    2. Jesus appears in heaven (30)

    3. Coming on the clouds (30)

    4. Angels present (31)

    5. Great sound of a trumpet (31)

    6. —

    7. Gathering of the elect (31)
    1. Called he parousia, “the coming” (15)

    2. The Lord descends from heaven (16)

    3. . . . with them in the clouds (17)

    4. Archangel present (16)

    5. Shout and trumpet of God (16)

    6. Dead in Christ will rise (16)

    7. We are caught up to meet him (17)

    1. Called he parousia, “the coming” (23)

    2. —

    3. —

    4. —

    5. At the last trumpet (52)

    6. Dead will be raised (52)

    7. —

    “The Rapture,” A Bad Term?

    It may come a surprise to some that the word “rapture” is not in the Bible.1 When we realize that Scripture does not speak of the rapture but rather says that at the coming of the Lord we will be raptured (caught up), it sheds new light on the discussion. It is misleading to speak of the rapture and then to ask when the rapture will take place. The Bible only mentions the coming of the Lord and says that when he comes we will be caught up together to meet him. But pre-tribulationists start by talking about the rapture and the second coming as if they were two separate events and then claim that post-tribulationists confuse the two. The fact is, however, that the Bible does not make this distinction. Instead, it uses the word “coming” (parousia) when we would expect to see the word “rapture” if indeed this were a different event.

    It is also interesting to note that the New Testament does use at least two other words to describe the return of our Lord, and once again no distinction is made. They are: apokalupsis, “revelation” and epiphaneia, “appearing.” Both of these Greek words are used as the hope of the church (1 Cor. 1:7; 2 Tim. 4:1,8; Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 1:7,13; 4:13) and in clear second coming passages (2 Thess. 1:7; 2:8).2 It would seem very strange then for the writers of the New Testament to use at least three different words interchangeably to describe two different events that are separated by seven years. In other words, it would be confusing to use these three words to speak of two different events without distinguishing the two events. We would expect them to use different words for different events (such as rapture and second coming maybe?). How are we able to distinguish what Scripture does not?3

    1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

    When we take a closer look at our “rapture passage,” we see that Paul is not describing a new event but is explaining that at the coming of the Lord the dead will be raised. Notice how he begins his thought in verse 13, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.” This sets the tone for what he is about to discuss. It is what he will be addressing, his “thesis statement” if you will. We then see him develop his theme of the dead in Christ as he goes on:

    [14] For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. [15] For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. [16] For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. [17] Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. [18] Therefore comfort one another with these words. [1 Thess. 4:14-18]

    Paul’s point to the believers at Thessalonica is that they need not worry about their dead loved ones. Jesus will resurrect them when he returns. He says that this will take place at “the coming of the Lord.” There is no hint that this is any different than the coming which everyone was expecting–the one that Jesus told his apostles would take place “after the tribulation” (Matt. 24:29). We would also expect that the eschatology Jesus taught them would be the same as what Paul was teaching, unless we have reason to believe differently.

    It is primarily this lack of evidence for multiple comings that is the basis for post-tribulationism. When it is realized that there is only one coming, post- is the only position. All agree that Christ is coming after the Tribulation, so if there is only one coming (or one stage of his coming as some prefer to call it), then the rapture must occur after the Tribulation.

    2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

    [5] This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. [6] For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, [7] and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, [8] dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. [9] These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, [10] when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed — for our testimony to you was believed. [2 Thess. 1:5-10]

    As mentioned earlier, a frequent charge against post-tribulationism is that they fail to distinguish between rapture passages and second coming passages; however, since we never find the word rapture in the Bible, what we label as a rapture or second coming passage will depend on our view of eschatology. If we believe that the church will be raptured prior to the Tribulation then any passage speaking of Christ coming in judgment will be labeled a second coming passage and any passage which speaks of his coming as a hope for the church will then be labeled as a rapture passage. This can at times be arbitrary and even circular. However, there is at least one passage which positively links the two as one event. In 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, Paul clearly states that God will give the believers rest when Jesus comes in flaming fire, dealing out retribution (v. 7,8). Then he goes on to say that the unbelievers will pay the penalty, “when he comes to be glorified in his saints on that day” (v. 9,10). There is no other conclusion than that the coming for the saints and the coming to execute vengeance are the same coming.

    2 Thessalonians 2:1-3

    [1] Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, [2] that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. [3] Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction [2 Thess. 2:1-3]

    Once again, we see Paul laying out his subject matter at the beginning. He is going to be speaking, “with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him” (verse 1). Then he states that the Day of the Lord,4 “will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction” (verse 3). This is the most clear denial of an “any moment” rapture as one could imagine. There really is not much upon which to expound. This passage speaks for itself. But if I may paraphrase, Paul is saying, “With regard to his coming and our gathering, that will not happen until . . .” It also seems quite clear that Paul links the coming of our Lord with our gathering together to him, because he is going to speak with regard to both. I fail to see where in the passage Paul goes on to talk about the gathering after discussing the coming if we assume these are separate events.5

    Also, Paul is making a point here. He stresses in verse 3, “let no one in any way deceive you” (which is a double negative in the Greek, a very strong negation). He says this as if someone would try to tell them otherwise.6 But he is very emphatic for them not to be deceived, because it will not happen until these things happen first. “It will not come” is in italics in the KJV and NASB, thus signifying that it was supplied by the translators. However, it necessarily is demanded by the rules of grammar in the Greek and is thus translated by every major translation.7

    Furthermore, if we follow Paul’s flow of thought from verse one to verse two, he seems to link the “coming of our Lord” with the “day of the Lord.” Not only is this the most logical way to understand this passage, but in my opinion it fits best with all of the other “day of the Lord” passages which will have bearing later in the discussion.

    Finally, it would seem strange for Paul to tell them that the antichrist must come first if he knew they would not be around to see it. Why even say this at all? Why not tell them that the rapture must come first? It seems that he is warning them that this is what the church is to look for. Also, as we will see in chapter 7, this is how the early church understood this.

    Revelation 20:4-5

    [4] Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. [5] The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. [Rev. 20:4-5, emphasis added]

    That this is taking place after the Tribulation is obvious. People are sitting on thrones reigning with Jesus. Both sides are in agreement at this point. But what to me seems equally clear is that the Bible states this is the first resurrection. If the rapture is to be preceded by the resurrection of believers (1 Thess. 4:15-17; 1 Cor. 15:52), and this is the first resurrection, then the rapture must be after the Tribulation.

    For a pre-tribulationist this cannot really be the first resurrection. If the rapture takes place before the Tribulation, and the resurrection takes place before the rapture, then the first resurrection had to take place at least seven years before this time. They will usually say that this is the third or fourth phase of the first resurrection, which neither this nor any other passage teaches. The literal reading of this passage is that there has been no resurrection before this (aside from the Lord himself, of course). I fail to see what would be the significance of saying, “This is the first resurrection,” if there had already been several resurrections of believers prior to this time. The book of Revelation was written to churches, who had hope of a future resurrection. When they read, “This is the first resurrection,” the most natural thing for them to assume is that this is the one they were waiting for.

    Also, if the church is not included in this resurrection, then John never does mention the resurrection of the church. Why would he leave out such an important event, especially when it was to the church that he was writing? He would have left them wondering where they fit into this picture. Of course, the way in which one views the order of the book of Revelation has a bearing on the discussion, but this will be dealt with in the next chapter.

    1 Corinthians 15:50-55

    [50] Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. [51] Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, [52] in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. [53] For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. [54] But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. [55] “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” [1 Cor. 15:50-55]

    This passage and 1 Thessalonians 4:17 are probably the two most common passages people think of in relation to the rapture. We often hear it said that we will be caught up “in the twinkling of an eye” (verse 52). However, I think it will come as a surprise to many that the rapture is nowhere mentioned here. All it states is that a trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised and we will be changed. That’s it! This passage leaves us on the earth with changed bodies. Of course, I am not denying that Paul is describing the same thing here as in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. However, as was pointed out earlier, the reason we connect the two is because of the similar events that are taking place.

    It is also interesting that Paul begins this discussion with his statement about how the living will inherit the kingdom (v. 50). We know that this will take place at the second coming. It seems as though Paul is saying, “Even the living will be changed in order to enter the kingdom in glorified bodies.” This entire chapter is about the resurrection and Paul had already stated that you must first die to receive a glorified body (vv. 35-38, 42-44). Then he states in verse 50 that you cannot inherit the kingdom with a mortal body. The question naturally arises, “So what about those who are still alive when Christ returns? Will they be excluded from the kingdom?” Paul goes on to reveal the answer to this mystery by basically saying, “Look, those who are still living will not have to die to receive an immortal body but will be transformed while they are still alive.” Not everyone will have to die first, but everyone will be changed (v. 51). He goes on to say that this is because the perishable must put on the imperishable and the mortal must put on immortality (v. 53). When Jesus returns, even those who are still alive and in their mortal bodies must be changed in order to inherit the kingdom, because it is itself imperishable (v. 50).

    Verses 23 and 24 have been used by some to teach the multiple-phase coming that we discussed in the preceding section. With reference to the resurrection these verses state, “But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at his coming, then comes the end.” Now this does show multiple resurrections: Christ, those who belong to him at his coming, then the end. In other words, the resurrections are: the Lord himself, the first (general) resurrection, then the second resurrection. This does not show multiple phases within the first resurrection but seems to preclude such an idea.

    If the resurrection of “those who are Christ’s at his coming” takes place at the rapture, then John’s “the first resurrection” (Rev. 20:5) also takes place at the rapture, or it isn’t even mentioned here. It would seem strange that what John called the first resurrection–as if it were a very significant event–would be completely overlooked by Paul’s discussion of the order of resurrections. If indeed “those who are Christ’s at his coming” is a reference to the second coming, then either Paul does not mention the rapture (which would seem equally as unlikely, since he is writing to the church), or the rapture occurs at the second coming. That the latter is true is demonstrated by statements in the book of Revelation showing that those who die during the Tribulation would by all means be included in “those who are Christ’s.” This is seen in passages such as Revelation 6:11; 7:14; 12:11, 17; 14:12; 17:6; 20:4.

    Matthew 24:29-31

    [29] But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. [30] And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. [31] And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. [Matt. 24:29-31]

    As was already pointed out, this passage has more similarities to the one rapture passage (1 Thess. 4:17) than any other passage in the Bible. However, since it explicitly states that it is “after the tribulation,” pre-tribulationists claim that this is not the rapture, although they readily claim 1 Corinthians 15:52 as a rapture passage based on fewer similarities. Since they go to great lengths attempting to prove this, I must take some time in reaction to their position.

    One reason they deny that this is the rapture is the claim that Jesus was talking to the Jews here, and this passage does not apply to the church. Well, Jesus was talking to the disciples (Matt. 24:3), and it is true that they were Jews. Naturally, the gospel had not been given to the Gentiles yet, so most everything Jesus said was to Jews. Jesus lived in Israel. Whenever he spoke he usually was talking to Jews. If Jesus talking to Jews makes a passage inapplicable to us, then that would take out most of the gospels. In this instance, though, he was talking specifically to the disciples in private (v. 3). These men were the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20). In my opinion they represent the church better than anyone. Furthermore, Jesus had already told Peter “Upon this rock I will build my church” in chapter 16 and given the disciples instructions for church discipline in chapter 18.8

    This discourse was prompted by their question, “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (v. 3). The disciples were asking him what they should look for in connection with his coming. Jesus went on to describe the Great Tribulation. The disciples lived after this awaiting his return and telling others about it. It does not seem reasonable to think that this was not really the coming they were to look for. Why answer them with a description of the Great Tribulation followed by a description of his coming in the clouds–with the sound of a great trumpet and the gathering his elect–if really they were going to miss all this by means of a pre-tribulation rapture? Would this not be what they went out and taught the church just a short time later?

    Also, they asked him about events concerning sunteleias tou aionos, “the end of the age.” Four chapters later, Jesus ends the Great Commission with the statement, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20, emphasis added) using the exact same words and speaking to the same people, and everyone applies the Great Commission to the church. Furthermore, they were instructed to make disciples, baptize, and teach until “the end of the age” (28:19-20). The most reasonable conclusion is that the church will be here until the end of the age.

    Probably the main reason pre-tribulationists claim that this passage pertains only to Jews is that Jesus gives special instructions to those who will be in Judea at this time (Matt. 24:16-20). It seems that the reason he does so is because this is when the antichrist will break his covenant with Israel and set up the “abomination of desolation” (v. 15). This is very central to this time period and even marks the midpoint of the seven years. It is a key event worth discussing whether we are talking to the church or to Israel. Also, the Old Testament was the only Bible the disciples had at this time. He naturally builds on what they already knew. They had read in the book of Daniel about this time of great distress “such as never was” and about the abomination of desolation (Dan. 11:31; 12:1-2, 11). Jesus is adding to the knowledge that they already had.

    Since the antichrist will be in Judea at this time as he sets up the abomination in the temple, and immediately after this he will begin persecuting God’s people, then we would expect the Lord to give instructions for those who will be in Judea at this time. This does not make the entire discourse a “Jewish passage.” Also, part of the disciples’ question was about the destruction of the temple (v. 3) which is in Israel.

    It is also interesting that Jesus said in verse 9, “Then they will deliver you to tribulation” [emphasis added]. Tribulation, then, is not the “wrath of God” but is the persecution of man. Tribulation is what Christians suffer for being Christians.9

    Also, we have no reason to believe that what Jesus taught here is any different from what Paul later taught about the Lord’s coming (1 Thess. 4:17; 1 Cor. 15:23, 50-52). If I was a first–century Christian and heard Paul talk about the parousia of the Lord for the first time, I would have no idea that he meant a completely different event. He uses the same words, describes the event in an amazingly similar manner, and gives us no reason to think he had anything else in view. Basically, what I am saying is that the eschatology Jesus gave Paul is the same as the eschatology he gave the other disciples here.

    Furthermore, when we combine this with what Jesus went on to say about his parousia, it seems inescapable that he is speaking of the same event:

    [27] For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. . . . [30] And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. [31] And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. . . . [37] For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. [38] For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, [39] and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. [40] Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. [41] Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.10 [Matt. 24:27, 30-31, 37-41]

    Luke 17:26-31

    In a very similar account in Luke, Jesus again compared his coming to the days of Noah and of Lot:

    [26] And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: [27] they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. [28] It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; [29] but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. [30] It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. [31] On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out. [Luke 17:26-31, emphasis added]

    Here Jesus shows that God came in judgment on the same day that the believers were saved. Then he says that “it will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed” (v. 30). My point is that the rescue and the destruction both happen on the same day. Both the rapture of the church and the coming in judgment happen at the same time. When Jesus returns it will be a “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) to those who know him and judgment to those who don’t (2 Thess. 1:7-8).

    2 Peter 3:8-15

    [8] Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day. [9] The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. [10] But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes, the heavens will disappear with a horrific noise, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze, and the earth and every deed done on it will be laid bare. [11] Since all these things are to melt away in this manner, what sort of people must we be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness, [12] while waiting for and hastening the coming day of God? Because of this day, the heavens will be burned up and dissolve, and the heavenly bodies will melt away in a blaze! [13] But, according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness truly resides. [14] Therefore, dear friends, since you are waiting for these things, strive to be found at peace, without spot or blemish, when you come into his presence. [15] And regard the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as also our dear brother Paul wrote to you, according to the wisdom given him, [16] speaking of these things in all his letters. [2 Peter 3:8-15, NET Bible]

    This passage has traditionally been understood to be describing events after the Millennium. Because of this, the “day of the Lord” has been understood to continue through the Millennium with these events taking place at the end. It is difficult to understand in this way when it is described as coming “like a thief” (v. 10). Plus this phrase “like a thief” is usually used with reference to the second coming of Christ. Also, Peter seems to be describing an event that the believers are presently waiting for (v. 12, 14) and which is connected with God’s promise (v. 9). Furthermore, he states that Paul wrote of these things in his letters as well. All of this does not support a post-millennial event. Their basis for a post-millennial understanding is the reading “burned up” in verse 10 (KJV, NASB11). This is translated from the word katakaio. The idea is that if the earth is going to be burned up at this time, then this could not take place before the Millennium, because Christ is going to rule on this present earth for a thousand years during the Millennium.

    However, the reading “burned up” is probably not original. There are several variant readings in the Greek manuscripts, and many translations favor the reading heurethesetai such as the NIV and NET, “laid bare;” the NLT, “exposed to judgement;” the NRSV, “disclosed;” and the NAB, “found out.” This is also the reading favored by the NA27/USB4 Greek Text. Concerning this variant the NET Bible comments:

    One of the most difficult textual problems in the NT is found in v. 10. The reading heurethesetai, which enjoys by far the earliest and best support (aleph B K P 1241 1739text et alli) is nevertheless so difficult a reading that many scholars regard it as nonsensical. As Bauckham has pointed out, solutions to the problem are of three sorts: (1) conjectural emendation (which normally speaks more of the ingenuity of the scholar who makes the proposal than of the truth of the conjecture, e.g., arga for erga with the meaning, “the earth and the things in it will be found useless”); (2) adoption of one of several variant readings (all of which, however, are easier than this one and simply cannot explain how this reading arose, e.g., the reading of P72 which adds luomena to the verb – a reading suggested no doubt by the threefold occurrence of this verb in the surrounding verses: “the earth and its works will be found dissolved”; or the simplest variant, the reading of the Sahidic MSS, ouch preceding heurethesetai – “will not be found”); or (3) interpretive gymnastics which regards the text as settled but has to do some manipulation to its normal meaning. Bauckham puts forth an excellent case that the third option is to be preferred and that the meaning of the term is virtually the equivalent of “will be disclosed,” “will be manifested.” Thus, the force of the clause is that “the earth and the works [done by men] in it will be stripped bare [before God].” We might add that the unusualness of the expression is certainly in keeping with Peter’s style throughout this little book. Hence, what looks to be suspect because of its abnormalities, upon closer inspection is actually in keeping with the author’s stylistic idiosyncrasies. The meaning of the text, then, is that all but the earth and men’s works will be destroyed. Everything will be removed so that humanity will stand naked before God.12

    On the translation “celestial bodies” for stoicheia in verses 10 and 12, it comments:

    Grk “elements.” Most commentators are agreed that “celestial bodies” is meant, in light of this well-worn usage of stoicheia in the second century and the probable allusion to Isa 34:4 (text of Vaticanus). See Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 315-16 for discussion.13

    If we accept the reading of these translations, then the passage is not saying that the earth will be burned up but that the heavenly bodies will be dissolved, and the earth and mankind will alone be left before God. This is quite in harmony with Jesus’ description of the second coming. Alluding to Joel 2:31, he said that the sun and moon will be darkened and the powers of the heavens will be shaken (Matt. 24:29). Isaiah 34:4 and Revelation 6:14 add that during this time the sky is rolled up like a scroll (compare “the heavens will disappear,” 2 Peter 3:10). The Old Testament ties the darkening of the sun and the moon with the stars as well in passages such as Isaiah 13:10, Ezekiel 32:7-8, and Joel 2:10; 3:15. Isaiah 60:2 states that darkness will cover the earth before the glory of the Lord appears. Joel 2:2, Zephaniah 1:15, and Amos 5:18-20 describe the day of the Lord as a day of darkness.

    So if the events in this passage take place at the second coming, and if these events were what the believers in this epistle were to look for, then our hope and our expectation is the second coming. That the latter is true is evident in such places as verses 9 and 10: “The Lord is not slow concerning his promise . . . but the day of the Lord will come.” If we follow Peter’s flow of thought, it as though the promise in view here is fulfilled in the day of the Lord. The church is to be looking for and expecting the event described in this passage. Verses 12 and 14 state that we should be waiting for and hastening the coming of this day. Concerning the latter verse the NET further comments:

    The Greek verb used in the phrase strive to be found is the same as is found in v. 10, translated “laid bare.” In typical Petrine fashion, a conceptual link is made by the same linkage of terms. The point of these two verses thus becomes clear: when the heavens disappear and the earth and its inhabitants are stripped bare before the throne of God, they should strive to make sure that their lives are pure and that they have nothing to hide.14

    The conclusion we must draw, then, is that the church is expecting to see these events take place and should strive to be ready when they happen. This would hardly be applicable with a pre-tribulation rapture scenario.

    Footnotes

    1. Actually, we get the noun “rapture” from the Latin Vulgate where the verb harpadzo “caught up” is translated as “raptus.” My problem is not so much with the word itself, but, since this is a verb and not a noun, it is a reference to the action “caught up” which takes place at the event “the coming,” not to the event itself. Using the noun “rapture” in our discussion leads one to believe that this is an event in and of itself. In fact, I have seen Pre-Tribulationists even make the statement, “The Bible never says that the rapture will take place after the Tribulation.” This is a meaningless statement, since the Bible never uses the term. <back>
    2. These Greek words are not always translated “revelation” and “appearing” in each of these occurrences. This is simply their usual translation. <back>
    3. Furthermore, the rapture has traditionally been taught to be a secret event so as to distinguish it from the second coming where the Lord is revealed in all his glory. Therefore, it would seem strange to use the words “revelation” or “appearing” for this event. These words better describe the second coming. This is why Pre-Tribulationists used to say that the “revelation” and “appearing” were specific references to the second coming after the Tribulation. However, as we have seen, Scripture does not allow for this distinction. <back>
    4. The King James, following the Textus Receptus, reads “Day of Christ.” <back>
    5. It is interesting as well that when he speaks of “our gathering together unto him,” he uses the word episunagoge which is the cognate noun of episunago, the word Jesus used when he spoke of gathering together his elect in Matt. 24:31. <back>
    6. Compare also to the warning in 2:15 & 3:14-15. <back>
    7. See E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), 52-53. <back>
    8. 16:18 and 18:17. It is also interesting these two verses are the only occurrences of the word ekklesia (church) in any of the gospels. <back>
    9. See chapter 5, Tribulation. <back>
    10. For a discussion of this word “taken” see chapter 5, Take. <back>
    11. The NASB reads, “some ancient manuscripts read discovered” in a footnote. <back>
    12. NET Bible (N.p.: Biblical Studies Press, 1999), 732, note 2. For information see: www.NETBible.com. <back>
    13. Ibid, 731, note 12. <back>
    14. Ibid, 732-733, note 17. <back>

    In Search Of The Origins Of The PreWrath Doctrine:
    Part 3: The Early Church Fathers Contradict Cutting Short The Last 3-1/2 Years
    Contributed by Tim Warner  http://www.velocity.net/~edju70/Prewrath3.htm

     
    (Antichrist will rule for 3.5 years after the abomination)

    “But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom, that is, the rest, the hallowed seventh day; and restoring to Abraham the promised inheritance, in which kingdom the Lord declared, that “many coming from the east and from the west should sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

    Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the Flesh, XXV

    (The Christian martyrs must wait until the Antichrist has completed
    his war on the Church, and this includes the time of the vials of wrath.
    Our “hope is” in the very end of the world [age])

    “In the Revelation of John, again, the order of these times is spread out to view, which ‘the souls of the martyrs’ are taught to wait for beneath the altar, whilst they earnestly pray to be avenged and judged: (taught, I say, to wait), in order that the world may first drink to the dregs the plagues that await it out of the vials of the angels, and that the city of fornication may receive from the ten kings its deserved doom, and that the beast Antichrist with his false prophet may wage war on the Church of God; and that, after the casting of the devil into the bottomless pit for a while, the blessed prerogative of the first resurrection may be ordained from the thrones; and then again, after the consignment of him to the fire, that the judgment of the final and universal resurrection may be determined out of the books. Since, then, the Scriptures both indicate the stages of the last times, and concentrate the harvest of the Christian hope in the very end of the world,…”

    Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, 47

    (The saints will be persecuted UNTIL the Beast is killed by Christ)

    “For this is meant by the little horn that grows up. He, being now elated in heart, begins to exalt himself, and to glorify himself as God, persecuting the saints and blaspheming Christ, even as Daniel says, ‘I considered the horn, and, behold, in the horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things; and he opened his mouth to blaspheme God. And that born made war against the saints, and prevailed against them until the beast was slain, and perished, and his body was given to be burned.’

    Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, 61

    (Antichrist will persecute the Church right up to the end of the 70th week)

    “That refers to the one thousand two hundred and threescore days (the half of the week) during which the tyrant is to reign and persecute the Church, which flees from city to city, and seeks conceal-meat in the wilderness among the mountains,…”

    Appendix to the Works of Hippolytus, XXV

    Christians will be persecuted “in those days” [the half of the week]
    the 3.5 years in which Antichrist is to reign)

    “For when Daniel said, ‘I shall make my covenant for one week,’ he indicated seven years; and the one half of the week is for the preaching of the prophets, and for the other half of the week that is to say, for three years and a half Antichrist will reign upon the earth. And after this his kingdom and his glory shall be taken away. Behold, ye who love God, what manner of tribulation there shall rise in those days, such as has not been from the foundation of the world, no, nor ever shall be, except in those days alone. Then the lawless one, being lifted up in heart, will gather together his demons in man’s form, and will abominate those who call him to the kingdom, and will pollute many souls.”

    Victorinus, Commentary on the Apocalypse, 20:1

    (Antichrist will persecute the Church for the entire 3.5 years)

    “The little season signifies three years and six months, in which with all his power the devil will avenge himself trader Antichrist against the
    Church.”

    Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, Book VII, Sec. II, XXXII

    (Christ’s coming for His saints and the resurrection
    occur at the same time when Antichrist is slain)

    “For in the last days false prophets shall be multiplied, and such as corrupt the word; and the sheep shall be changed into wolves, and love into hatred: for through the abounding of iniquity the love of many shall wax cold. For men shall hate, and persecute, and betray one another. And then shall appear the deceiver of the world, the enemy of the truth, the prince of lies, whom the Lord Jesus ‘shall destroy with the spirit of His mouth, who takes away the wicked with His lips; and many shall be offended at Him. But they that endure to the end, the same shall be saved. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven;’ and afterwards shall be the voice of a trumpet by the archangel; and in that interval shall be the revival of those that were asleep. And then shall the Lord come, and all His saints with Him, with a great concussion above the clouds, with the angels of His power, in the throne of His kingdom, to condemn the devil, the deceiver of the world, and to render to every one according to his deeds. ‘Then shall the wicked go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous shall go into life eternal,’ to inherit those things ‘which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, such things as God hath prepared for them that love Him;’ and they shall rejoice in the kingdom of God, which is in Christ Jesus.”

    An Evaluation of the New “Pre-Wrath” Rapture Theory

    by
    William Arnold III
    WmArnold@gmail.com

     


    Areas of Agreement · Major Areas of ProblemThe new “Pre-Wrath” rapture theory was devised by Robert Van Kampen and has been popularized largely by Marvin Rosenthal. The major work on this subject has been Rosenthal’s “The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church” (1990). However, Van Kampen has now published two of his own works, “The Sign” (1992) and “The Rapture Question Answered: Plain and Simple” (1997). The subtitle of Rosenthal’s book reads: “A new understanding of the Rapture, the Tribulation, and the Second Coming.” The word “new” is both in italics and in a different color than the rest of the type. This own self-acknowledgment of their view places them under the same condemnation as that of Pre-Tribulationism as not being part of the “faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), but instead being a new innovation. According to Rosenthal’s own assessment of himself, he is “in the technical sense . . . not a scholar,” and he refers to Van Kampen simply as a “Christian businessman.” This lack of scholarship is reflected in his book, which demonstrates a definite unfamiliarity with Biblical Greek.

    Areas of Agreement

    1. The wrath of God occurs only after the rapture (p. 61).

    2. The Day of the Lord is a time of God’s wrath (p. 35).

    3. “The Rapture occurs on the very day the Day of the Lord begins” (p. 117).

    4. On page 189 he states, “Those four words, ‘at the last trump,’ reveal in the clearest possible way the precise occasion when the Rapture of the church will occur.”

    5. According to his chart on page 61, the rapture occurs after the Great Tribulation. This is by definition the Post-Trib position.

    6. He also argues very vigorously that there is only one coming (pp. 129, 222-224).

    Major Areas of Problem

    1. He proposes a strict sequential interpretation of the book of Revelation (p. 35, 112), which is crucial to his position. This has already been discussed in The Order of the Book of Revelation.

    2. He divides the 70th week into three parts (p. 61), whereas the Bible routinely divides it only into two. He places the rapture and the beginning of the Day of the Lord somewhere in the middle of the second half (p. 61). He also states that the starting point of the Day of the Lord is crucial to his position (p. 117, 126), yet there is no biblical justification to place this starting point where he does.

    3. In order to distinguish the rapture from what he calls the “return in glory,” he has a rapture where Christ is not bodily present (p. 217-218). Compare this to the only rapture passage in the Bible which states that “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven” (1 Thess. 4:16).

    4. If he can maintain a gap of up to several years between the rapture and the “return in glory” yet still claim that this is one event, then the only difference between his position and that of pre-tribulationism (seven years) is the duration of this gap.

     


    For more discussion on the problems of the Pre-Wrath position, visit these two sites:

    Dan Dudley and Ed Tarkowski.

     

    Pre-Wrath stands on the grounds of trying to convince everyone that seals are in order and that the signs in the sun and moon are the answer…but they don’t usually tell you that happens 5 time in the Book or Revelations. Have a look…..

    http://www.onenesspentecostal.com/revorder.htm

    The Order of the Book of Revelation

    by
    William Arnold III
    WmArnold@gmail.com

     


     

    Introduction · Various Opinions on the Order · A Biblical Approach · Literary Flow vs. Chronological Order

    Introduction

    Attempt to understand the book of Revelation has given rise to a great deal of controversy. I think it is because of this controversy and the variety of opinions surrounding this book that so many ministers avoid it altogether. This is very sad because it is the only book in the Bible which gives a specific blessing to him “who reads and those who hear” its words (1:3), and it is an epistle written to the church (v. 4).

    Various Opinions on the Order

    The opinions range from a strict chronology to the idea that there is no sequence of events whatsoever. A strict chronology is impossible. For instance, Revelation 14:1 has Jesus standing on Mount Zion with the 144,000 Jews when the bowls are still yet to come in chapter 16 and his return in chapter 19. Revelation 11:15-19 states that Jesus has now received the kingdom and begun to reign, that the time for the dead to be judged has come, and that it is time to destroy those who destroy the earth. All of these are events which take place after the Tribulation. Revelation 7:15-17 seems to depict eternity (compare to 21:3-7). Revelation 10:7 states that with the seventh trumpet “the mystery of God is finished.” In 13:1 John first sees the Beast coming out of the sea which would be very difficult to reconcile with what has been going on if this is when he first appears (especially chapter 12). Revelation 12:4 is best understood as taking place in eternity past with verse 5 as a reference to the birth and ascension of Christ (although some would understand it differently). Revelation 14:17-20 describes the harvest by the angels which Jesus said would take place at the “end of the age” (Matt. 13:39). Both 14:8 and 18:2 describe the fall of Babylon as if it has just taken place. Revelation 6:12-14 describes the great cosmic signs which Jesus said would take place “after the tribulation” (Matt. 24:29). And both 6:14 and 16:20 describe the disappearance of all mountains and islands.

    Among those who fall between a strict chronology and the idea of no sequence whatsoever, there are two major schools of thought concerning how to understand the order of the book of Revelation. The first is the view which sees the seals, trumpets, and bowls as sequential with some of the events in between as being interruptions of this order. The second view sees the seals, trumpets, and vials as all leading up to the end. It sees this as the same story told from different points of view, similar to the different accounts in the gospels. Each time John describes events that lead up to the return of the Lord and the end of the age from a different perspective.

    A Biblical Approach

    Now the difference between these two views is significant. I will attempt to show that the second is to be preferred. This is based primarily on the similarity of events described towards the end of the seals, trumpets, and bowls as demonstrated in the following chart:

     

    Sixth and Seventh Seal

    Sixth and Seventh Trumpet

    Seventh Bowl

    1. A great earthquake2. Voices, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake3. Angel cried with a loud voice

    4. Every mountain and island taken out of their way

    5. —

    6. —

    7. Day of his wrath is come

    8. Silence in heaven

    9. Great multitude in heaven

    10. —

    1. A great earthquake2. Lightnings, voices, thunderings and an earthquake3. Great voices in heaven

    4. —

     

    5. Great hail

    6. Temple opened; voices heard

    7. Thy wrath is come

    8. Mystery of God is finished

    9. Time of the dead

    10. Kingdom given to Christ

    1. A great earthquake2. Voices, thunders, lightnings and a great earthquake3. Great voice from heaven

    4. Every island fled away and the mountains were not found

    5. Great hail

    6. Great voice out of the temple

    7. Fierceness of his wrath

    8. “It is done”

    9. First resurrection (ch. 20)

    10. Christ reigns 1,000 yrs (ch. 20)

    Although some of these are debatable there seems to me to be overwhelming evidence here linking these events. The most logical understanding is that these are describing the same events with some giving more details and some leaving out details. This is more plausible than the idea that all these things take place multiple times. We could look at several of these events, but I want to focus on one in particular: I grew up on an island. Imagine that every island on the planet disappears. Now imagine that every mountain is leveled. Think about it: THIS CANNOT HAPPEN TWICE! Mountains and islands do not “grow back” after five or six years. If nothing else, at least these must both describe the same event.

    Not only do these events parallel each other, but they parallel other passages. For instance, the sixth seal parallels the description of the end by both Jesus and Joel:

     

    Joel (Joel 2)

    Jesus (Matt. 24)

    John (Rev. 6)

    1. In the last days (Acts 2:17)2. Sun into darkness, moon into blood3, 4. Wonders in heaven . . .

     

    5. . . . and in the earth

    6. Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD

    1. After the tribulation2. Sun darkened, moon does not give its light3. Stars fall from heaven

    4. Powers of the heavens shaken

    5. —

    6. Then the Son of Man appears in the sky

    1. At the sixth seal2. Sun became black, moon like blood3. Stars of heaven fell to earth

    4. Sky receded as a scroll

    5. Mountains, islands disappear

    6. Jesus is seen / day of his wrath has come

    Jesus plainly states that the great cosmic signs would take place “after the tribulation.” John has them occurring at the sixth seal. We must therefore conclude that at least the sixth seal is after the Tribulation. Furthermore, the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15-19) clearly describes the end and is said to finish the mystery of God (10:7) as was already stated.1 Also, as John is approaching the seventh trumpet he is told that he “must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings” (10:11). This leads me to believe that the sixth and seventh trumpets bring us to the end, and then John starts back over from a different perspective listing different events with the bowls.2 Finally, it seems likely that this seventh trumpet parallels Paul’s last trumpet in 1 Corinthians 15:52 and Jesus’ trumpet in Matthew 24:31.

    Literary Flow vs. Chronological Order

    Although I do not see a strict chronology, I do see a literary flow of the book of Revelation (characters are usually introduced into the story before they are discussed, such as the 144,000 in chapter 7 and the great harlot in chapter 17). This type of structure may seem strange to us, but it is common in other parts of the Bible and fits very well with the Semitic style of the book. In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus describes the first 3 ½ years (beginning of sorrows) followed by the second 3 ½ years (Tribulation) and finishes with the coming of the end (Matt. 24:4-14). Then he returns to discuss the midpoint in verse 15 and the second 3 ½ year period again in verse 21. This is similar to the story of creation in Genesis 1 and 2. Moses tells the whole story and then returns to expound on the creation of man in more detail. This is how I understand the seals, trumpets, and vials. They are increasingly more telescopic of events leading up to the end.

     


    Footnotes1. Compare to Daniel 9:24, where the completion of the seventieth week is said to “seal up vision and prophecy.” <back>
    2. Even Pentecost recognizes this point, cf. J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 187-188. <back>

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