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Friday, September 19, 2014

What Protestant Reformers Believed about the End Times

Reformed Eschatology

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John Calvin's commentary references the great theologians from the early church father's through his contemporaries.
The apostle Paul condemns those desiring to be snatched from the trials of this world.

John Calvin, 1509 – 1564

["On the other hand, those false prophets whom Paul expense, while they ought to have kept men's minds in suspense, bid them feel assured of his speedy advent, that they might not be wearied out with the irksomeness of delay. "Let no man deceive you." That they may not groundlessly promise themselves the arrival in so short a time of the joyful day of redemption, he presents to them a melancholy prediction as to the future scattering of the Church. This discourse entirely corresponds with that which Christ held in the presence of his disciples, when they had asked him respecting the end of the world. For he exhorts them to prepare themselves for enduring hard conflicts, (Matt. 24:6) and after he has discoursed of the most grievous and previously unheard of calamities, by which the earth was to be reduced almost to a desert, he adds, that the "end is not yet", but that "these things are the beginnings of sorrows". In the same way, Paul declares that believers must exercise warfare for a long period, before gaining a triumph.] - "Commentary of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians", by John Calvin.

The Church was not the one restraining or taken out of the way.
["And now what withholdeth". . . Let my readers now consider which of the two is the probable - either that Paul declared that the light of the gospel must be diffused through all parts of the earth before God would thus give loose reins to Satan, or that the power of the Roman Empire stood in the way of the rise of Antichrist, inasmuch as he could only break through into a vacant possession. I seem at least to hear Paul discoursing as to the universal call of the Gentiles - that the grace of God must be offered to all - that Christ must enlighten the whole world by his gospel, in order that the impiety of men might be the more fully attested and demonstrated. This, therefore, was the delay, until the career of the gospel should be completed, because a gracious invitation to salvation was first in order.]- "Commentary of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians", by John Calvin.
In conclusion: the Church was unaware in the 16th century that it would later be equated with the Restrainer.

Geneva Study Bible - 1599
The Geneva Bible was the official bible of the Protestant Church - Expounding the beliefs of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and other Reformation leaders. - 2nd Thessalonians:["2:6 And now ye know g what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. (g) What hinders and stops. 2:7 6 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: 7 only he who now h letteth [will let], until he be taken out of the way. (6) Even in the apostles time the first foundations of the apostolic seat were laid, but yet so that they deceived men. (7) He foretells that when the empire of Rome is taken away, the seat that falls away from God will succeed and hold its place, as the old writers, Tertullian, Chrysostom, and Jerome explain and interpret it.
(h) He who is now in authority and rules all, that is, the Roman Empire."]

Once again - the novelty that the Church is the one restraining has not yet been suggested.

Geneva Bible reference from Revelation 13 identifies the pope as the false prophet
["Contrary to that which God of old commanded should be written in the head piece of the high Priest, that is, "Sanctitas Jehova", Holiness unto the Lord. The name of blasphemy imposed by the dragon, is that which Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 "He sits as God and boasts himself to be God" For this name of blasphemy both the Roman Emperors did then challenge to themselves, as Suetonius and Dion do report of Caigula and Domitian: and after them the popes of Rome professed the same of themselves, when they challenged to themselves sovereignty in holy things of which kind of sayings the sixth book of the Decretals, the Clementines, and the Extravagants, are very full. For these men were not content with that which Anglicus wrote in his Poetria, (the beginning of which is "Papa stupor mundi" The pope is the wonder of the world) "Nec Deus es, nec homo, sed neuter es inter utrungue." Thou art not God, nor art thou man, but neuter mixed of both: as the gloss witnesses on the sixth book: But they were bold to take to themselves the very name of God, and to accept it given of other: according as almost a hundred and twenty years since there was made for Sixtus the fourth, when he should first enter into Rome in his papal dignity, a Pageant of triumph, and cunningly fixed upon the gate of the city he should enter at, having written upon it this blasphemous verse: "Oraclo vocis mundi moderaris habenas, Et merito in terrs crederis esse Deus." That is, By oracle of thine own voice, the world thou governest all, And worthily a God on earth men think and do thee call. These and six hundred the like who can impute to that modesty by which good men of old would have themselves called the servants of the servants of God? Verily either this is a name of blasphemy, or there is none at all."]

Matthew Henry - 1662-1714
Matthew Henry continues the original Protestant doctrine.["Cautions against the error that the time of Christ's coming was just at hand. There would first be a general apostacy from the faith, and a revealing of the antichristian man of sin. (1-4) His destruction, and that of those who obey him. (5-12) The security of the Thessalonians from apostacy; an exhortation to stedfastness, and prayer for them. (13-17) Verses 1-4 If errors arise among Christians, we should set them right; and good men will be careful to suppress errors which rise from mistaking their words and actions. We have a cunning adversary, who watches to do mischief, and will promote errors, even by the words of Scripture. Whatever uncertainty we are in, or whatever mistakes may arise about the time of Christ's coming, that coming itself is certain. This has been the faith and hope of all Christians, in all ages of the church; it was the faith and hope of the Old Testament saints. All believers shall be gathered together to Christ, to be with him, and to be happy in his presence for ever. We should firmly believe the second coming of Christ; but there was danger lest the Thessalonians, being mistaken as to the time, should question the truth or certainty of the thing itself. False doctrines are like the winds that toss the water to and fro; and they unsettle the minds of men, which are as unstable as water. It is enough for us to know that our Lord will come, and will gather all his saints unto him. A reason why they should not expect the coming of Christ, as at hand, is given. There would be a general falling away first, such as would occasion the rise of antichrist, that man of sin. There have been great disputes who or what is intended by this man of sin and son of perdition. The man of sin not only practises wickedness, but also promotes and commands sin and wickedness in others; and is the son of perdition, because he is devoted to certain destruction, and is the instrument to destroy many others, both in soul and body. As God was in the temple of old, and worshipped there, and is in and with his church now; so the antichrist here mentioned, is a usurper of God's authority in the Christian church, who claims Divine honours. Verses 5-12 Something hindered or withheld the man of sin. It is supposed to be the power of the Roman empire, which the apostle did not mention more plainly at that time. Corruption of doctrine and worship came in by degrees, and the usurping of power was gradual; thus the mystery of iniquity prevailed. Superstition and idolatry were advanced by pretended devotion, and bigotry and persecution were promoted by pretended zeal for God and his glory. This mystery of iniquity was even then begun; while the apostles were yet living, persons pretended zeal for Christ, but really opposed him. The fall or ruin of the antichristian state is declared. The pure word of God, with the Spirit of God, will discover this mystery of iniquity, and in due time it shall be destroyed by the brightness of Christ's coming. Signs and wonders, visions and miracles, are pretended; but they are false signs to support false doctrines; and lying wonders, or only pretended miracles, to cheat the people; and the diabolical deceits with which the antichristian state has been supported, are notorious. The persons are described, who are his willing subjects. Their sin is this; They did not love the truth, and therefore did not believe it; and they were pleased with false notions. God leaves them to themselves, then sin will follow of course, and spiritual judgments here, and eternal punishments hereafter. These prophecies have, in a great measure, come to pass, and confirm the truth of the Scriptures. This passage exactly agrees with the system of popery, as it prevails in the Romish church, and under the Romish popes. But though the son of perdition has been revealed, though he has opposed and exalted himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; and has spoken and acted as if he were a god upon earth, and has proclaimed his insolent pride, and supported his delusions, by lying miracles and all kinds of frauds; still the Lord has not yet fully destroyed him with the brightness of his coming; that and other prophecies remain to be fulfilled before the end shall come."] - The Matthew Henry Commentary

John Wesley 1703 - 1791
This eighteenth century commentary by John Wesley on 2nd Thessalonians reveals the following:
-This 'gathering' was the same occurrence as in 1st Thessalonians Ch 4.
-The Roman Empire was the restraining force which had previously held back the Roman Catholic Church from gaining power.

["Our gathering together to him - In the clouds

Be not shaken in mind - In judgment. Or terrified - As those easily are who are immoderately fond of knowing future things. Neither by any pretended revelation from the Spirit, nor by pretence of any word spoken by me.

Unless the falling away - From the pure faith of the gospel, come first. This began even in the apostolic age.But the man of sin, the son of perdition - Eminently so called, is not come yet. However, in many respects, the Pope has an indisputable claim to those titles. He is, in an emphatical sense, the man of sin, as he increases all manner of sin above measure. And he is, too, properly styled, the son of perdition, as he has caused the death of numberless multitudes, both of his opposers and followers, destroyed innumerable souls, and will himself perish everlastingly. He it is that opposeth himself to the emperor, once his rightful sovereign; and that exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped - Commanding angels, and putting kings under his feet, both of whom are called gods in scripture; claiming the highest power, the highest honour; suffering himself, not once only, to be styled God or vice - god. Indeed no less is implied in his ordinary title, "Most Holy Lord," or, "Most Holy Father." So that he sitteth - Enthroned. In the temple of God - Mentioned Revelation 11:1. Declaring himself that he is God - Claiming the prerogatives which belong to God alone.

And now ye know - By what I told you when I was with you. That which restraineth - The power of the Roman emperors. When this is taken away, the wicked one will be revealed. In his time - His appointed season, and not before.
He will surely be revealed; for the mystery - The deep, secret power of iniquity, just opposite to the power of godliness, already worketh. It began with the love of honour, and the desire of power; and is completed in the entire subversion of the gospel of Christ. This mystery of iniquity is not wholly confined to the Romish church, but extends itself to others also. It seems to consist of, Human inventions added to the written word. Mere outside performances put in the room of faith and love. Other mediators besides the man Christ Jesus. The two last branches, together with idolatry and bloodshed, are the direct consequences of the former; namely, the adding to the word of God. Already worketh - In the church. Only he that restraineth - That is, the potentate who successively has Rome in his power. The emperors, heathen or Christian; the kings, Goths or Lombards; the Carolingian or German emperors. "]

Excerpt from Wesley's Commentary of Revelation Chapter 12
Now, all the countries in which Christianity was settled between the beginning of the twelve hundred and sixty days, and the imprisonment of the dragon, may be understood by the wilderness, and by her place in particular. This place contained many countries; so that Christianity now reached, in an uninterrupted tract, from the eastern to the western empire; and both the emperors now lent their wings to the woman, and provided a safe abode for her. Where she is fed - By God rather than man; having little human help. For a time, and times, and half a time - The length of the several periods here mentioned seems to be nearly this: -

1The non - chronos contains less than1111
2The little time888
3The time, times, and half a time777
4The time of the beast666
And comparing the prophecy and history together, they seem to begin and end nearly thus:

1The non - chronos extendsfrom about 800 to 1836
2The 1260 days of the womanfrom 847 - 1524
3The little time947 - 1836
4The time, time, and half1058 - 1836
5The time of the beastbetween the beginning and end of the three times and a half

Charles Spurgeon
It is the bounden duty of every Christian to pray against Antichrist, and as to what Antichrist is no sane man ought to raise a question. If it be not the popery in the Church of Rome there is nothing in the world that can be called by that name. If there were to be issued a hue and cry for Antichrist, we should certainly take up this church on suspicion, and it would certainly not be let loose again, for it so exactly answers the description."

"Christ did not redeem His church with His blood so the pope could come in and steal away the glory. He never came from heaven to earth and poured out His very heart that He might purchase His people so that a poor sinner, a mere man, should be set upon high to be admired by all the nations and to call himself God’s representative on earth! Christ has always been the head of His church." -- Charles H. Spurgeon
Cyrus I. Scofield 1843 - 1921
Suddenly in 1917 the restrainer can be none other than the Holy Spirit in the church. How did something so obvious elude the Early Church Fathers, theologians, pastors, and scholars for 1900 years?
2nd Thessalonians 2:3 ["the removal of that which restrains the mystery of lawlessness. The restrainer is a person--"he," and since a "mystery" always implies a supernatural element this Person can be none other than the Holy Spirit in the church, to be "taken out of the way""] - Scofield Reference Notes 1917

Scofield should have known that the Greek word musterion means something secret, hidden, or yet to be revealed; and does not imply that the thing to be made known is of any particular nature. It certainly does not "always" imply "a supernatural element".
Read these Protestant's commentary on Revelation 13 online at
The Reformers believed they were living during the days of Revelation Ch. 12 & 13 because they were not familiar with Futurism or the pre-tribulation rapture theory.

by C.W Steinle 


Thursday, September 18, 2014

What is the Gift of Prophecy?

How does the Bible Exemplify Prophecy?

It is curious that Bible teachers who claim to “rightly divide the Word of God” continue to restrict the gift of prophecy to the one-liner of 1st Corinthians 14:3: “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.”  The fact is that over one fourth of the Bible concerns prophecy – more than 8,000 verses.  One to Eight Thousand (1:8000).  That ratio doesn’t seem like a very well divided perspective.  And the subject of the overwhelming majority of the Bible’s prophetic verses is not comfort.  Where are the writings of the peace and safety prophets like Hananiah? (Jeremiah 28)  Not a single one of the peace and safety prophets got their books into the Bible.
Old Testament prophecy and the New Testament Revelation are typified by warnings, judgments, and predictions of calamity; granted that they are sprinkled with occasional words of future hope and comfort.  Agabus is the only New Testament prophet who’s gifting is given in detail in the Book of Acts.  Agabus predicted two future events; Paul’s chains in Jerusalem, and a regional famine.  Neither of these messages are words of comfort.  And both of these prophecies predicted future events.  So using 1st Corinthians 14:3 as the standard for Biblical prophecy goes beyond wrongly dividing the Word of God.  This misrepresentation of the gift of prophecy has caused many to dismiss the pertinence of The Revelation of Jesus Christ.  Words that Split the Rocks strives to present the gift of prophecy from a Biblical standpoint, which will aid the reader in heeding “the words of the prophecies of this book” – Revelation 22:7.
Another addition to the Expanded Edition is a 2013 Foreword to the Fourth Edition of Come Out of HerMy People.  The new foreword covers some new conversations among leading authors who have written about the characters and events of Revelation.  The reestablishment of the Nation of Israel has had a dual affect on the Church.  Opinions are diverging concerning the timing of the rapture.  This is largely due to the increase of World News bearing resemblance to the Bible’s end-time prophecies.  A sense of imminence has drawn many to do more extensive research regarding Biblical prophecy.  Even those who place the rapture before the tribulation expect the tribulation to begin in the very near future.

America and Babylon

Since 2006 I have declared a message of warning to the United States.  That message was the subject of my previous book Come Out of Her My People.  Since that time other authors, preachers, and followers of end-times prophecy have continued to warn both Christians and Jews that America is about to be judged for her sins.  Despite the recent escalation of these warnings, the Church remains complacent.  At the same time, even the secular elite of the country have seen the writing on the wall and have begun to move their wealth to offshore havens.  It has long been observed that creatures, both wild and domestic, have become restless before the onset of a disaster.
The American Church, nevertheless, continues down the slippery slope toward  liberalism.  The Church can scarcely claim to still have the 'form of godliness'.  Even the shepherds of the flock are so addicted to entertainment that they would not consider unplugging their televisions.  Instead of seeking the Lord with all of their hearts, they clutter their thoughts with the latest video games and movies.   At the heart of this complacency is a notion that the normal, peaceful Christian experience will not be contaminated or intruded upon by the discomforts of the Tribulation.

C.W. Steinle

These topics and more are addressed in my Come Out of Here My People series.  As always, many of the author’s latest observations can be found at

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Why Most Christians believe in a Post Tribulation Rapture

Plain Truth about Pre-Trib

Now all of my observations about the timing of the rapture are contained in my latest book, "Why Most Christians Believe in a Post-Tribulation Rapture."  Get all of the verses, the history, the Greek, the discussion of national Israel . . . no stone left un-turned.

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The advancement of the pre-tribulation rapture theory over the last century has become so successful among Western Protestants that the younger members of these denominations are not even aware of its novelty.  I too was taught, and taught others, that the Church would be removed from the earth before the opening of Revelation's Seven Seals.  But as I studied my Bible I began to find that some scriptures spoke differently than I had been taught; and I realized that I would not have come to the pre-trib conclusion by reading the Bible on my own.  That's when I began to research the history of the pre-trib teaching.  I was shocked.  Why wasn't I told that the theory was new? - so new that most Christians over the last 2,000 years had never even thought of the idea!  And that the Catholic and Orthodox churches (the majority of today's Christians) don't believe it either.  So please allow me to briefly share some of my findings and personal insights.

Pre-Tribulation Rapture Dropped Like a Hot Rock

You will find an abundance of online documentation for the following facts:
Few references occur in the writings of the Church Fathers to a pre-tribulation rapture.  The idea was always quickly dropped and never became a source of debate - and certainly never surfaced in the great councils, nor made its way into any creed or statement of faith.  The reason why these references to a pre-trib rapture were often quickly contradicted by the Fathers themselves is that the imminence of the tribulation was recognized by Scripture as an essential element of the second coming.

["On the other hand, those false prophets whom Paul expense, while they ought to have kept men's minds in suspense, bid them feel assured of his speedy advent, that they might not be wearied out with the irksomeness of delay. "Let no man deceive you." That they may not groundlessly promise themselves the arrival in so short a time of the joyful day of redemption, he presents to them a melancholy prediction as to the future scattering of the Church. This discourse entirely corresponds with that which Christ held in the presence of his disciples, when they had asked him respecting the end of the world. For he exhorts them to prepare themselves for enduring hard conflicts, (Matt. 24:6) and after he has discoursed of the most grievous and previously unheard of calamities, by which the earth was to be reduced almost to a desert, he adds, that the "end is not yet", but that "these things are the beginnings of sorrows". In the same way, Paul declares that believers must exercise warfare for a long period, before gaining a triumph.] - "Commentary of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians" by John Calvin.

Futurism is the assumption that the last nineteen chapters of Revelation do not refer to current events, but speak of a separate "future - time to come."  Francisco Ribera  is called the Father of Futurism.    Martin Luther and the Reformers accused the Roman Papacy of being the Antichrist and believed they were living out the 12th and 13th chapters of Revelation. (The Reformers believed the "one restraining" was the Old Roman Empire.  And because they were not familiar with the pre-tribulation rapture theory, they assumed the prophecies of Revelation were well underway.)  Ribera was a Jesuit theologian and his theory was proposed during the time of the Counter Reformation (1590), and quickly adopted by the Roman Catholics as a way of proving that the current day Pope could not be the Antichrist - based on the assumption that Revelation hadn't really started yet.

Around 1830, John Nelson Darby took Ribera's Futurism to the next level.  Darby used Ribera's break-point, at the end of Rev. Ch. 3; but in place of Ribera's claim that a different Church with a different Papacy suddenly appeared, Darby took the Church out altogether!  This was necessary for his division of the Scriptures into separate "dispensations."  Because the Protestants had died believing that the Roman Papacy was the Antichrist of Revelation, it took several generations for the Protestant Churches to forget the bloodshed, and to gradually accept futurism.  It was easier to promote futurism in the Western Hemisphere - far from the battlefields where the Protestant founders were burned, drowned, and beheaded.

Why has a Pre-Tribulation Rapture been traditionally rejected?

Thousands of loving and well-meaning Protestant ministers have adopted the pre-trib rapture view.  So why has a pre-tribulation rapture been rejected for nearly 2,000 years?  And why do most Christians around the world (Catholic, Orthodox, Traditional European, and Reformed Protestants) continue to believe that the rapture occurs at Christ's second coming?

First of all, there WILL be a Rapture!
As the Apostle Paul states in 1st Corinthians 15; "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed - in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." - 1 Cor 15:51,52.  Furthermore, these events are described in detail in 1st Thessalonians Chapter Four.

"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 by no means precede those who are asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." 1 Thess 4:15-17.  This verse is proof of the rapture.

But the details of these verses have been purposefully overlooked by the pre-tribulation theorists, authors, and movie-makers.
Here we are given three facts about the Lord:
  1. He is coming.
  2. He is the same Lord. (Himself, or self-same)
  3. He is descending.
He is coming.  He is no longer seated in heaven - He is not merely calling or commanding the saints to rise and join Him in heaven.  He is coming.

For the Lord Himself.  Paul is not being redundant.  The Greek text can also be translated "the self-same Lord."  Once again this points to a physical second coming, as foretold by the angels in the Book of Acts.

"Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."" - Acts 1:9-11  As He ascended, He will descend.  In what manner?  In bodily form.

He is Descending.  Jesus cannot be sitting and descending at the same time.   He is either sitting at the Father's right hand or He is descending.   The Bible says He is descending.

Pre-Trib Violates the Rules
The pre-tribulation teachers violate the most basic principle of Bible interpretation when they attach a figurative interpretation to the coming/descending of Christ, and at the same time, convey a literal meaning to the resurrection and the rapture.  Either Jesus is coming in His glorified body and the dead are rising in their glorified bodies; or else, Jesus is only returning in a figurative sense and the saints are meeting Jesus in some figurative sense.  Fundamental Bible interpretation precludes mixing the literal and spiritual meanings within the same passage.

Paul's comfort to the Thessalonians was the knowledge that their loved ones who had died in Christ would rise from the dead in order to witness the coming of Christ with their own eyes; thus fulfilling the desire of Job:

"For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!" - Job 19:25-27

Video showing the TRUE comfort of 1st Thessalonians 4

Is Chapter Four of 1st Thessalonians ALL about the rapture?

If the main purpose of 1st Thessalonians 4 isn't to assure the Church that it will not go through the tribulation, what is the comfort of this chapter?  To answer that question it is important to understand that Paul's discussion of end times events in first and second Thessalonians are closely related and are based on a common time-line.  The end point of time-line in both of the Thessalonian letters is the Day of the Lord.  The fact that "that Day" will not come before the resurrection of the dead in 1st Thessalonians, and "that Day" will not come until the man of sin is revealed, are both based on the same time-line.  Both are tied to the resolution of Christ's enemies being made "a footstool" before His time at the Father's right hand is concluded.

Psalm 110 gives the duration of Jesus' residence at the Father's right hand - until His enemies have been subdued.
"The Lord said to my Lord,
"Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."
Paul adds that "The last enemy that will be destroyed is death." - (see 1st Cor. 15)

Jesus overcame death at His own resurrection.   The 'death' - which is the last enemy - is that victory over death by all those who have died in faith, and who will rise at the call of Christ. (see John 5)  The last enemy to be overcome is death, which Paul refers to as "the resurrection of the dead", the rising of "the dead in Christ" or of "those who sleep in Christ."

Paul relates the resurrection of the dead in 1st Corinthians 15 as "the last enemy that will be overcome" - death - not Christ's death, but the general resurrection of the dead.  The resurrection of the dead will signal that all of Jesus enemies have been made His footstool, and Jesus will sit at the Father's right hand until all of His enemies have been put under His feet.  Therefore, Jesus will not return until the resurrection of the dead occurs.

Paul's assurance to the bereaved takes the form of a simple syllogism:

  • The final victory over death will be evidenced by the resurrection of the dead. (see 1 Cor 15)
  • Jesus will reside in heaven until His last enemy (death) is overcome.
  • Therefore, Jesus' coming/descending from the right hand of the Father cannot precede the resurrection of those who have fallen asleep.
1st Thessalonians Four not only proves there will be a rapture; it also proves that the rapture will occur at Jesus' second coming - once He has fulfilled His time at the Father's right hand. (see the video below) The Last Enemy of Christ    The Last Enemy of Christ FREE at Smashwords.

The mention of the rapture of the living in 1st Thessalonians 4 is incidental to the thrust of these verses of comfort.  Furthermore, nothing in this eschatology indicates that Jesus is going to immediately ascend again after His coming.  On the contrary.

“To meet the Lord in the air”

The word used for meeting the Lord has the meaning and usage of greeting and escorting back to the abode of the ones who came forth to greet.  It is used in the parable of the ten virgins who went out to meet the bridegroom; and it is also used when the Christians went out to meet Paul on his arrival at Rome.  When the bridegroom met the virgins, he didn't turn around and take them back to his father's house.  They turned around and escorted the bridegroom to the wedding.  And, likewise, for Paul's greeting party.  They were not all going back with Paul to Malta. 

To further support the resolve that Jesus is coming and not merely planning a fly-by, we need only study the word “meet.” Apantesin (meet).  This exact word is used three times in the New Testament; Matthew 25:6, Acts 28:15, and here in 1st Thessalonians.  In every instance it is used to describe a greeting party, not a departure.  Let’s look at its usage in Matthew because of the striking similarity between Paul’s usage and its usage by our Lord Jesus.

"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”-Matthew 25:1-13

Paul told the Thessalonians in verse 15 that his statements concerning these end-times events were “by the word of the Lord,” so it is reasonable to assume that Paul was recalling these very words of Jesus from Matthew’s gospel as he addressed the concerns of the Thessalonians.  And because the Greek in which these words were originally circulated among the churches is so precise, we can also reasonably assume that Paul would have handled these words consistently because they were “the word of the Lord.”
So in verses 1 and 6 of Matthew Chapter 25, were the ten virgins going out to be taken away by the Lord?  Or, were they going out meet Him with the intention of escorting Him back to the bride?  The answer is obvious.  Their lanterns were lighted specifically for the purpose of leading Him back to where they had come from.  Once again this word for “meet” is clarified in Acts 28:15. 

“And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.”

These believers from Italy were not going out to meet Paul with any thought of returning with him to Malta.  Their meeting was nothing more that a greeting.  Apantesin is also used several times in the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament.  The reader who is thorough enough to investigate these Old Testament passages will only find further proof that apantesin is a meeting and not a one-way departure.

If someone is coming from heaven, (or they’re coming from Chicago, or they’re flying in from Europe,) we would go to the air (or the airport) to meet them.  That wouldn’t mean that we were going back with them.  There is nothing in the passage that says Jesus is doing a yo-yo thing where He’s descending, and then He’s going to bob back up with those who have gone to meet him.  This is a greeting party.   We’re going to meet the Lord in the air.  The meeting is the purpose.  The “catching up” will be like a father lifting his children up when they run to meet him after an absence.  The father is not going to jump back in his car and drive the kids back to his workplace.  The father has “come” “from” work.  He came home for a purpose.

Jesus is descending.  Paul has given a sufficient description of His descent as the bodily second coming of Christ.  Nothing here says that He’s returning back up into heaven at the time of this meeting.  Furthermore there is no indication whatsoever that Jesus will be deviating from His earthbound course of direction.  It is the greeting party.  The greeting party will turn and accompany the Lord back to the earth, just as in every other use of this word in the Bible.

Therefore, comfort one another with these words.

It’s all about comforting the bereaved.  It starts out with that.  It wraps up with that.  These verses are all about God's counsel to the living regarding their dead.  They’re going to burst forth from their graves.  They’re not going to miss out on anything.  So you don’t have to sorrow as those who have no hope.  Isn’t it interesting that verse 17 (the part about the rapture) is ripped out and presented in books and movies without the context of the comfort, or a depiction of the resurrection of the dead?  The movies depict the saints as though they were ascending straight into heaven.  No voices.  No Trumpets.  No appearing.  No descending.  And No coming.  And certainly no thought about the resurrection of the dead.  Is that how an honest filmmaker would portray 1st Thessalonians Four?  Is that any way to treat the very Word of God?

The authors and screenwriters have studied these verses.  They know exactly what their doing.  But they don’t want the audience to think about the fact that the resurrection of the dead occurs first - even though that’s pointed out in this text three times.  This concealment is most certainly made because the Bible places the resurrection of the dead at the end of the age, after the Great Tribulation.  People who are trying to force the idea of the pre-tribulation rapture of the church either can’t use this verse (which is the only verse in the Bible that actually refers to this meeting in the air as the rapture); or, they must strip it of its context and only portray the rapture scene by itself.

Because if they present the rapture verse in its context, it becomes obvious that it is not a pre-tribulation rapture at all.  It’s a rapture after the resurrection of the dead.

Some people just don’t want to teach it the way it’s written in the Bible, so they extract what fits their purpose and assume that you will never study it on your own.  When examining doctrine, we have to hold it up against the standard of the Word of God.  Does it agree with what God’s Word says, or is it contrary to what God’s Word says?  If we don’t go by the Bible, then what are we going to go by?  Because if you’re just going to pull out a phrase from five or six verses and plant it somewhere by itself, you can make the Bible say anything you want.  But we don’t want to do that, do we?  Don’t we want to cling to what the Bible actually says - no matter who’s trying to write a good book, or make a good movie?

Fractured Analogies from the Past

Although the most pre-trib teachers insist that they have interpreted the Book of Revelation literally, they still hold on to remnants from Christian Platonism.  (Platonists turned the entire Bible into a series of analogies.)  Even today, the Catholics still don’t believe that Jesus will literally return before the millennium.

But in the midst of the pre-tribbers’ literal interpretation, suddenly they will throw in an analogy as a hangover from the Middle Ages.  To make matters worse, they don’t complete these analogies.  I call these fractured analogies.  A parable may have a main theme surrounded by incidental details.  But in interpreting an analogy, one should be able to find a meaning for each of its components, or else the unidentified elements would serve no purpose, and would therefore be without spiritual meaning.

One of my favorite fractured analogies is the pre-trib interpretation of the 24 elders in Revelation.  The pre-tribbers expect the Church to be in heaven after the Letters to the Churches.  They point to the fact that from Chapter Four through Chapter Nineteen, the 24 elders are found stationed in heaven.  Therefore, since the Church is supposed to be in heaven, the 24 elders are really the Church.  But we find that there are three groups gathered around in the throne room; the 24 elders, the four living creatures, and the angels.  So when the pre-trib proponents claim that the 24 elders are really the Church, I ask the question, “Then who are the four living creatures, and the angels?”  Quite obviously, the four living creatures are none other than the four living creatures.  And likewise, the angels - are angels.  The point being; you can’t just pick out one character and make that character into an analogy, while ignoring the rest of the characters in the scene.  It just doesn’t work that way.

Another more famous fractured analogy occurs when the rider of the white apocalyptic horse is tagged with the task of bearing the Antichrist.  Nothing whatsoever is said about the Antichrist in Chapter Six of Revelation.

In order to interpret these seals and horses and riders correctly, we need to find some common element among them.  The seals could represent different states of existence based upon the observation that some have died and are beneath the altar and some are experiencing catastrophic disasters.  But most Bible scholars agree that they represent a series of conditions, or events.  The Futurist would place these events after the rapture.  And others, myself included, have seen these events beginning to unfold after the seven Revelation Churches had been conquered by the Muslims.  The assumption that these seals represent segments of time is further enforced by the use of the word "when" at the beginning of each descriptive passage.  These seals are the focus of the chapter, "The Outline of the Age," presented in the fourth edition of Come Out of Her My People.

But putting a famous character on the white horse demands that the identities of the other riders also be established.  If the rider of the white horse is the Antichrist, then who is the rider of the black horse holding the scales?  And what about the fact that some of the seals don't even have horses, much less riders?  Putting the Antichrist on the white horse is another example of a fractured analogy; where one member is spiritually interpreted, and the rest are left unidentified.  If the rider of the white horse is the only rider with a name, the "Lone Ranger" might be a more appropriate name for him.  (The first mention of colored horses in the Bible is found in the Book of Zechariah and the colors are completely arbitrary - so the assumption that the colors have no specific meaning in Revelation Six is the proper starting point for its interpretation.) But using haphazard and splintered spiritual analogies is a very poor method of Bible interpretation, to say the least.  

Sadly, all of these flaky fabrications have been constructed because the Bible does not support a pre-tribulation rapture without the "spin" that's been added using all of the illusions exposed above.  But wait, there's more.

"After These Things"

The texts examined above are not the only glaring deficiencies of Futurism.  I would also recommend that the reader look at each occurrence of the phrase "after these things," especially as John uses the phrase in the book of Revelation.  Chapter Seven of Revelation opens with the words "After these things."  The wrath of God has just come upon the earth at the end of Chapter Six.  Does that mean that the Bible has no more to say about the wrath of God?

Look at what has just taken place before these words are used in Revelation 7:9.  The 144,000 have just been sealed.  Does that mean that the Jews are not to be found in Revelation "after these things?"  But the pre-tribulation rapture teachers would tell you that "after these things" means the Church as just been raptured at the beginning of Chapter Four.  Is this the way for serious Bible scholars to interpret the Scriptures?  If God wanted you to know that the Church had been raptured at the beginning of Chapter Four, wouldn’t He use words easy to understand?  Wouldn't the Lord who said, "Let the little children come to Me," speak in plain enough language that a child could understand it?

Is a Pre-Tribulation Rapture the BLESSED HOPE?

The teaching that physical suffering is outside of God's will for Christ's Church is heretical blasphemy.  The notion that a pre-tribulation rapture is "the blessed hope" is a perverted gospel.  Christ's second coming, the destruction of ALL that offends, and the restoration of ALL things is the true blessed hope.  That hope is not focused upon one selfish generation that believes it is too good to suffer.  The true blessed hope is a hope that is shared equally by the living and the dead - from Job to David to Daniel - a hope that will be fulfilled at Christ's second coming.  After 6,000 years of Bible history at least 99% of all believers have already died in faith.  The blessed hope is not a special right-of-passage for a spoiled generation of American Baby-boomers.  Time to grow up and get over it.

Will Jesus Come Like a Thief?

Yes, He will take unbelievers off guard.  Coming like a thief was the punishment that Jesus used to warn the Church at Sardis that they needed to wake up.  "Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you." - Rev 3:3.

But Paul wrote to Christians who were walking in the light, "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.  You are all sons of light and sons of the day.  We are not of the night nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober." - 1 Thess 5:4-6 

An Imminent Rapture is Defeated by Pre-Trib's OWN Assumptions!

Pre-tribulation assumptions:
  • Antichrist enters the Temple 3 1/2 years after the rapture
  • The Jews have returned to the land so that a Temple can be rebuilt
According to the standard pre-tribulaton interpretation of Revelation: The rapture was not imminent between the years 70 AD and 1948 AD.  The rapture could not happen during that time because the Jews did not control the land of Israel.  Thus, a Temple could not have been built during that time.  Furthermore, the procurement of the Temple real estate, planning, and construction of the Temple, are unlikely to be accomplished within a 3 1/2 year period - making an imminent rapture unrealistic until such time as the Temple project is nearly or actually under construction.

Will Christians Experience God's Wrath?

"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." - Rom 8:1
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written:

"For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." - Rom 8:35-37

Christians cannot come under God's wrath.  But they will be required to endure a time of slaughter - a season of God's wrath upon the earth.  If this were not possible, then even Christians who were saved during this time would be under God's grace and under God's wrath at the same time.  Nor could any 'elect' occupy the earth at that time.  Thus, there would be no reason for the preaching of the eternal gospel during that time.

But the fact is - Christians "have passed from judgment into life" because of their obedience to the gospel.  And their salvation is spiritual, just as Christ's kingdom is not of this world.  This great salvation cannot be jeopardized by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Therefore the entire argument against the Church's existence upon the earth during the time of God's wrath is irrelevant; because over any and all earthly woes we are more than conquerors; and if Christ is for us - He cannot, at the same time, be against us.

When WILL the Rapture Occur?

Will All Israel be Saved?
Paul writes in the eleventh chapter of Romans; "For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

"The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins." - Rom 11:25-27
These verses in Romans are used to teach that a time is coming when the Gentiles (supposedly referring to the Church) will be removed so that God can do a special work among the Jews.  This obviously could not have fulfilled anything concerning the Gentiles during the first decade of the Church, since the Christian Church was almost entirely Jewish at that time.

And according to Jesus, the time of Jacobs trouble ends with the fullness of the Gentiles.
"There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." - Luke 21:23b,24

Yet the pre-trib teachers contradict Jesus' words and place these difficult times for the Jews after the times of the Gentiles have been fulfilled .  (This is actually a failing of John Darby's Dispensationalism adopted by pre-trib movement)  An imminent rapture, which supposedly signifies the time of the Gentiles being fulfilled, could only come after the Jews had already fallen by the sword, been imprisoned, and experienced great distress.  Because Jesus says these troubles will occur "until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."  Therefore, equating the rapture of Church with the fullness of the Gentiles - followed by the time of troubles for the Jews creates a blatant contradiction to the Scriptures.

The next hurdle in applying this interpretation is the assumption of free will.  For Protestants who resist the idea that someone can be born as a Christian without being reborn; for them to insist that all Jews would be saved, whether they like it or not, would require an ultra-predestinarian view that would put strict Calvinists to shame.

But in fact, Jesus said that many of the Jews will be disqualified.  "And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."- Matt 8:11,12
The Return of the Jews to the State of Israel does appear to be necessary to fulfill prophecy; and this is widely acknowledged by Christians and Jews as a primary reason why the nation was reborn.  (see article: Can this be Israel in the Last Days?)

But WHO is the Israel that will be saved?  Is it all of the Jews who happen to be living in the State of Israel?   Is Israel all of the descendants of Abraham?  Obviously not, because many of the children of Ishmael are warring against Christians and Jews.  Is it all of the sons of Isaac?  
 No, because, "Jacob I have loved, and Esau I have hated."

So then, is 'all Israel' all of the people genetically descended from Jacob?  Would they need to be 100% pure descendants?  What about the intermarriage during the times of Balak, and Nehemiah; and Ruth, and Rahab?  Would someone with 49% Jewish blood be part of Israel?  What about 30%?, 10%?  How about 1%?  Now consider, that after four thousand years, perhaps everyone on the planet has some amount of Jewish blood.  Are we all 'all Israel'?

And finally, what about all of the Jews, however they might be identified, who have died before the 'time of the Gentiles' has been fulfilled?  Have they all perished, like in a game of musical chairs, merely because they lived at the wrong time?

But why were Ishmael and Esau rejected?  Because God made His election by His promise, and by our faith.  'All Israel' simply has no rational meaning at this time; if not the spiritual meaning that Paul himself has attached to it within the Letter to the Romans - that is - that 'all Israel' is true Israel.  The Israel of promise and faith.  It is all faithful Israel, and all who have been grafted into faithful Israel.  Genetics and race have been set aside by the mystery of the inclusion of the Gentiles.  "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Ephesians Chapter Two states that Jews and Gentiles have been united in Christ so as to "create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross."  And what God has joined together let not man separate.  "Through the cross."  There is no third covenant.  The way by genetics has been made obsolete by the way of faith in Christ, as Jesus said Himself, "No one comes to the Father except by Me."

What's wrong with expecting a pre-tribulation rapture? 

Wouldn't a pre-tribulation rapture cause a lot of unbelievers to get saved in a hurry?  Actually, Jesus said, "No sign will be given except the sign of Jonah."  "Without faith it is impossible to please God."  That is why the preaching of the eternal gospel must continue until the end.  The pre-tribulation rapture scenario - that threatens to "leave behind" - is a different gospel than the gospel of deliverance from eternal separation from the Creator taught by the New Testament.  And might not unbelievers adopt a 'wait and see' attitude pending the occurrence of the rapture, rather than relying on the completed work of redemption already accomplished by Christ on the cross?  Why present a different and unfinished gospel to a desperate world?

Another problem with the pre-tribulation rapture theory is that it gives Christians a false sense of ease that will ultimately cause stumbling.  History shows that Christians who have been taught that if they have enough faith they will never get sick, or that they will always be wealthy, develop feelings of embitterment and betrayal when God allows these difficulties into their lives.

What would happen in an actual catastrophic situation where a Christian was unable to contact others.  Would they know that they were still saved?  Or might they wonder if everyone else had been raptured, and that they must not have truly been saved?  What could that person do, that they had not already done to be saved?  This is a dangerous situation that need not be faced, and which can be avoided by a correct understanding of the timing of the rapture.

What about Revelation 3:10 & The Philadelphia Church? See this blog post on Revelation 3:10: