Post-Trib Responses to Pre-Trib Beliefs #3

August 9, 2011

This a continuing series that scripturally analyzes Pre-tribulationism, the belief that the Church does not need to go through the Tribulation but is caught up to Heaven with Christ in a Secret Rapture.  Pre-trib teaches that He appears to believers only at the Rapture (i.e., it is “secret”), based on Bible passages, such as these:  1Thess 4:13-18; Mat 5:8; John 11:40; Heb 9:28.  Let’s look at them:

1 Thes 4:13-14:   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. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

Paul writes that Christians are to believe that when Jesus returns He will bring with Him those who have died in a saved state—believers in Jesus.  Note several items:  these believers will be coming from Heaven with Jesus, that they are not “soul sleeping” until He returns, and that no sign of two returns, one for the Rapture and one for the Day of Judgment are expressed.  Item #1 is a source of confusion for Pre-Tribism; indeed the saints WILL be accompanying Christ on His return from Heaven, but these are not those “who are alive and remain” (v17).  Item #2—“soul sleep” is the concept that when we die we remain dead and unaware, until Christ returns to resurrect us.  Paul directly contradicts that in these verses.  Item #3—nowhere, including this passage, are two returns of Christ ever seen when applying the main and plain interpretation to a given passage.

1 Thes 4:15:   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.

Paul teaches that many believers will remain on Earth until THE Coming (singular) of the Lord.  Yeshua returns and stays.

1 Thes 4:16:   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.

The trumpet of God is elsewhere called “a great trumpet” in Mt 24:29-31, “the last trumpet” in 1 Cor 15:52, and “the seventh (trumpet)” in Rev 11:15.  The Revelation passage is particularly cogent because at the sounding of the 7th and last trumpet “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ”—if we were raptured away for 3.5 or 7 years at the trumpet blast, arguably the same trumpet referenced in all of these passages, how does the world come under Jesus’ control if there’s still a Tribulation to go through?

1 Thes 4:17-18:   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.

The Greek for “caught up” is “harpazo”, translated “rapturo” in the Latin Vulgate, the English equivalent of which is “rapture”.  This is the only place in the Bible harpazo is used in the context of Christ’s return.  The word “to meet” is particularly interesting in this verse; it is “apantesis”, which means ‘to go out of a city, meet a dignitary or military procession and accompany them BACK into the city’; it has the meaning of “greet”, as in greeting guests that arrive at your house.  The verses state that from then on, we will always be with the Lord.  Pre-Tribulationists cannot make this mean we’ll be with Jesus in the air/heaven only, or even initially, because they also hold that Christ will return to rule during the Millennium, as do Post-Tribbers, so the only certain meaning is that we will never be separated from Christ again.

Mt 5:8:  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

This verse has apparently been used by Chuck Missler, a noted Pre-Tribulationalist, to state that Christ will be seen only by believers when he comes to rapture them.  Not only does this verse not say that, or actually have any specific connection only to the Second Coming, but Rev 1:7 states that “BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.”  Before you protest that this is at His second, Second Coming (to judge), please note that 1 Thes 4:17 (discussed above) says we “will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air”  Both verses reference “clouds”, but Rev 1:7 says that despite the clouds “every eye will see Him”.

 John 11:40:  Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

 Jesus is talking to Martha here, just before He raises Lazarus from the dead.  He is specifically speaking about the miraculous act about to occur; this verse does not address the Rapture/Resurrection, or whether it will be a secret event seen only by believers.

 Heb 9:28:  so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

Again I fail to see how this supports a secret Rapture—on the other hand, the Greek “deuteros”, meaning “the second, the other of two, the second time” is translated with the definite article “the” or “a”; in other words, it references a single occurrence—He is returning a second time, not many second times.  To say that is only Pre-Trib believers who eagerly await Him is incorrect.

For those who read this, and perhaps believe or come from a Pre-Trib background, like I did, note that verses referenced to support Pre-Trib notions of Christ’s return are being carefully reviewed in light of the context and what other scripture is saying.  If there are any errors in interpretation on my part, I would welcome you to point them out.  As long as we stay focused on what scripture actually says we are going to find the truth.

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Post-Trib Responses to Pre-Trib Beliefs #2

July 31, 2011

I have begun to examine a number of Pre-Tribulational Rapture beliefs about the Rapture/ Resurrection in light of scriptural contexts and parallel passages; there will be many installments, all discussing directly the passages used to support this construct.

Pre-Trib Belief No. 2:  Jesus will come with His Church/Bride down from Heaven, after the Tribulation (Zech 14:5; Col 3:4; Rev 19:7-8,14, 21:9-10; Matt 24:29-31; Jud 1:14,15; 1Thess 3:13)

Responses

Zech 14:5,  You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!

This verse, and the context, certainly describe the return of Yeshua to fight against the nations gathered against Jerusalem (v1).  Verse 5 says “and all the holy ones with Him”.  This could mean either the heavenly hosts/angels, which are frequently called “holy ones” קדוש qadowshm,  H6918, meaning “holy” or “set apart”.  It could also mean the redeemed of God. Or it might be both.   Remember, the dead in Christ are raised first (1Thes 4:16), so those coming with Christ who have died over the ages and dwell with Him in their spirits will receive their bodies before those still alive, then we who are alive will receive our “resurrection” bodies. In any case, these verses do not prove a pre-trib rapture, nor do they work exclusively in support of such.

Col 3:4,  When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

This verse does refer to the rapture/resurrection—John writes in 1 John 3:2  “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”  It in no way exclusively works just for a pre-trib rapture.  On the other hand we again (and again and again) have a reference to a single appearance of Christ, at His (one) return.

Rev 19:7-8,14,  7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” 8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints… 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.

The pre-trib presuppositions here are that 1) the saints are in Heaven (the who?), 2) they’ve attended the marriage of the lamb to the bride, 3) they must have been there for a long time for that to have happened, longer than is allowable in a post-trib rapture scenario, and 4) they follow Christ as he returns to earth to defeat those enemies assembled to make war against the lamb and his army (v19).

The rebuttal for this is to ask ‘how long is an hour, a day or a year in Heaven?’  While we live inside of time here, Heaven is outside of time.  Through the many other scripture passages that have been and will be addressed in this series it was/will be clearly demonstrated that the return of Christ is single event—it is unnecessary to require a large amount of time between the rapture and Christ riding to Jerusalem’s defense.  In fact the apantesis qualifies as “the marriage”—we are united to Christ when we put on our imperishable bodies.

Heaven is coming to earth.  The new Jerusalem, the people of God, will descend from Heaven and hover over physical Jerusalem.  The new Jerusalem will be Heaven, in the Millennium and beyond.  It is not necessary to put it a long way distant and require the saints to dwell there for years in order “to be married” to the lamb.

Now about the term “saints” in the Book of Revelation.   A common objection that pre-tribbers often throw up is that “the church isn’t mentioned once during the Tribulation in Rev. Chapters 4-21.”  But yet in 19:7&8 the term “bride”, unarguably meaning the church/ekklesia, and “saints” are interchangeable.  So at least in Chapter 19 of  Revelation “saints” means “church.”  Well unfortunately for pre-tribbers, the word “saints” ἅγιος hagios, meaning “holy ones”(same basic meaning as Zech 14:5, discussed above), appears throughout Revelation. So either the church does appear in Revelation, in the tribulation, or “saints” does NOT refer to the church in Rev 19.

Rev 21:9-10,  9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.

Pre-tribbers have Zech 14:5 and Rev 19 reporting on the second, Second Coming of Christ when he comes to do battle with the nations, so by referencing this scripture as a proof of “Jesus coming with His Church/Bride down from Heaven”, is this the third, Second Coming of Christ?  No, this is not an exclusive proof of the pre-trib rapture.  It is simply stating that in the Millennium, Heaven will dwell on earth as the New Jerusalem, which is both the Bride and its dwelling place on earth during that time.

Matt 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.

How this passage could somehow be referenced as a proof of the pre-trib rapture is beyond me.  It clearly states that “after the tribulation” Jesus “will send forth His angels” to “gather together his elect”.  This IS the rapture.  The angels are gathering the elect FROM the earth (the four winds).  This is not a gathering from Heaven.  The parallel passage in Mark 13 says “He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.”  If all the elect are already in Heaven because of a previously occurring pre-trib rapture it would not say “from the farthest end of the earth”.

Jude 1:14,15, 4 It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

Holy ones or saints, hagios, could mean either angels or the ekklesia returning with Christ to earth after being raptured into the air to greet Christ and transformed into their immortal, eternal bodies during the resurrection/rapture.  The passage neither proves the pre-trib rapture nor disproves post-trib.  Christ WILL be coming with the saints already in Heaven to resurrect their bodies and transform those still alive.  Recall that the dead in Christ are raised first (1Thes 4:16), so those coming with Christ will receive their bodies before those still alive, then we who are alive will receive our “resurrection” bodies.

1 Thess 3:13  So that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.

When Christ comes with all His saints, those saints will be given their resurrection bodies, then we who are alive will be transformed. (1Thes 4:16, 1 Cor 15:51, 52) Paul is talking to someone when Jesus and the saints are coming; who is he talking to, if not the Church/saints still on earth when Christ returns?


Post-Trib Responses to Pre-Trib Beliefs #1

July 30, 2011

This series will examine a number of Pre-Tribulational Rapture beliefs about the Rapture/Resurrection in light of scriptural contexts and parallel passages.

Pre-Trib Belief No. 1:   Jesus comes for His Church/Bride, to take up to Heaven, before the Tribulation (Luke 21:36; John 14:1-3; 1Thess 1:10, 4:14-17, 5:9; Rev 3:10).

Response 1A

Jesus said “But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man”(Luke 21:36) following His description of the tribulation in verses 25-35. He then says “when YOU see these things happening…” (v31), and it (the trib.) will come upon all who dwell on the face of the earth (v35).

Obviously the people he is talking to are going through the tribulation.  He is encouraging them to not give in, not worship the Beast, and to pray that God would give them strength to stand.  He is not promising to zap them out prior to the trib., or even during it.

Response 1B

John 14:1-3: “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

No where does Jesus state in these verses in John, nor in the wider context, that this takes place prior to the tribulation.  On the other hand, Matthew 24:29, 31 says But immediately after the tribulation of those days… 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.

Response 1C

1 Thes 1:9-10: For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.

1 Thes 5:9: For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ

“The wrath to come” does not mean “the tribulation.”  If it does, I would like to read where the bible states that.  Over and over the bible declares that the wrath of God will be toward the disobedient (Col 3:6) and the unbelieving (Heb 3:10-12).  People will experience the wrath of God when they are judged and condemned to Hell.  Some case can be made that the armies invading Israel at Armageddon will experience God’s wrath.  For a more complete discussion of that see http://midnightwatcher.wordpress.com/2011/03/26/lost-in-translation-not-appointed-unto-wrath-what-scripture-is-really-saying/

Response 1D

1 Thes 4:14-17:   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.

Verse 17 says “we who are alive and remain”.  Remain through what?  The tribulation.  In 2 Thessalonians, further instructions to the same church, Paul reports that the apostasy and the “man of lawlessness”, i.e., the antichrist, comes first (2 Thes 2:1-4).  Furthermore, the dead are raised FIRST, before those who are alive.  More detail on this can be found in 1 Cor 15:51-52:  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.  Changed into what?  Our resurrection bodies (v35-50).  Why do we need bodies?  Because we will be living on the earth, during the Millennium, when Christ reigns physically.

When we “meet the Lord in the air”, it is not to go to heaven, but to return to earth.  The word “meet” in Greek is ἀπάντησις apantēsis, G529, derived from G528 ἀπαντάω, apantaō, “to go to meet”.  It is a technical term that refers specifically to the practice of sending a delegation outside the city walls and gates to receive a dignitary who was coming. This was the practice when a king and his army were returning from war. All the people would pour forth from the city gates and welcome them with pomp and circumstance. The people would meet them outside and then usher them back into the city with shouts of joy and acclamation. So we are resurrected/changed, meet the Lord in the air, and then return to earth to rule and reign with Him.  We don’t go off to Heaven for up to 7 years.

Response 1E

Rev 3:10: Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

Boy, talk about taking a verse out of context.  This is written to the church in Philadelphia, in about 95 AD.  Nowhere does it say that the Philadelphians would be snatched away to Heaven, and indeed, they were not.  Nowhere does it say that this verse applies to Christians in some later dispensation or date.  If the messages of the seven churches could somehow be applied to consecutive periods down through “the church age” (a dispensational term), the Philadelphian church is not the last, the Laodicean church is.  In every way that this verse can be analyzed, it does not tell us that by persevering we will then be secretly raptured away.


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