Dec 27, 2012

Post Tribulation Rapture VII

Alexander Reese wrote:

"Let us therefore go to the Epistles, especially as our opponents (pre-tribbers - SG) affirm vigorously that "the End" is never found there for the hope of the Church. Writing in the London (October 17th, 1907), Dr. W. H. Griffith Thomas remarked on Matthew 24:14: "I cannot find the word ‘end’ is anywhere else applied to the coming of the Lord for His people." And another scholarly Anglican writes: "As regards the word ‘End’ ‘—’ and then shall the end come.’ This is not the Coming of Christ; that event is nowhere called the ‘End.’ Here is the source of error with so many Bible students..." So also Dr. Gaebelein frequently and emphatically. I propose to show that not fewer than five texts in the Epistles associate "the End" (telos) with the Christian hope; and if one text of Scripture availed to "hang the universe on" in William Kelly’s day, he would be the first to agree that five will stand the expanding universe of Einstein, Lord Rutherford, and Sir James Jeans, and should suffice to support a biblical doctrine."  (CHAPTER VIII-THE CHURCH AND THE END IN THE EPISTLES - see here)

In the preceding post it was shown how I Cor. 1: 7-8 disprove this assertion of the pre-trib advocates.  In that verse "the end" is the same time as "the revelation of Jesus Christ" and "the day of the Lord Jesus Christ."  Further, it was shown that "the last day" is identified with "the end of the age." 

In chapter IV ("THE RESURRECTION OF THE SAINTS IN ST. PAUL’S EPISTLES") Reese cited 1 Corinthians 15:50-54.

"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I show 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 trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory."  (R.V.).

He then comments:

"Here is the highest and most glorious revelation in Scripture concerning the resurrection and transfiguration of the saints. It occurs as the climax of the long chapter on the resurrection of Christ and the holy dead. Our only concern, however, is to know if we can find any clue to guide us in our inquiry concerning the time of the resurrection. Other aspects of this chapter will come before us later; at present this one suffices.

Is there any clue to guide us? Yes, a very decided one; and one that for open minds will settle the whole controversy. Paul not only describes the resurrection and transfiguration of the saints: he emphatically indicates the time for the fulfillment of these wonderful events. Here are his words: "So WHEN this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, THEN shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’" (v. 54).

Nothing could be clearer than the Apostle’s argument here. The resurrection and transfiguration of the faithful dead will take place in fulfillment of an O.T. prophecy. This occurs in Isaiah 25:8, which we have already considered. Now if, to use Bellett’s illustration, we go back to Isaiah, using the lamp that Paul has furnished us with, what do we find? Why, that the resurrection of the saints, and the victory over death, synchronize with the inauguration of the Theocratic Kingdom, the Coming of Jehovah, and the conversion of living Israel. Following are Isaiah’s words (25:6-9 R.V.): "And in this mountain shall the Lord of Hosts make unto all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined." Here we have the inauguration of the Kingdom under the figure of a banquet. "And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering that is cast over all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He hath swallowed up death for ever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces." Here we have the resurrection, which, according to Paul, includes the raising of Christians.

Beautifully does Dr. Wheeler Robinson say in his essay in The Study Bible: "We seem to see the great King rising to greet the long procession of suffering and sorrowing humanity, which wears the veil of the mourner. His royal hand removes the veil and wipes away the tears, and destroys their cause for ever" (p. 121). Again: "And the reproach of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it" (Isa. 25:8).

This gives us the rehabilitation of Israel, long put to shame before the Gentiles by their age-long dispersion, and apparent abandonment by Jehovah. Again: "And it shall be said in that day, ‘Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation’" (Isa. 25:9). Here we have the repentance and conversion of Israel at the Coming of Jehovah.

It will be seen, therefore, that Paul, so far from detaching the resurrection from the Kingdom, and the conversion of Israel, takes his stand with Isaiah, Daniel, and the Lord Jesus Christ, in linking them up inseparably. In the very act of revealing new truth about the Christian hope he shows that the theory of his holding to a special coming and resurrection "for the Church" is the veriest fiction: The Coming of Jehovah Jesus is the hope of both Israel and the Church.

That is, kingly rule in the Future Age is not for mere human nature, but for the new humanity in the Last Adam, who is a quickening Spirit. Hence he proceeds to deal with the resurrection and transfiguration of the saints: transfiguration essential for kingly rule—this is the secret truth now revealed.

The reader may ask what explanation pre-tribs give of this fundamental difficulty in 1 Corinthians 15:54, and how they attempt to reconcile their theories with this Scripture. As a rule they have nothing to say about it; they pay it the perpetual compliment of leaving it alone; or it is one of those "details" that it is inexpedient to inquire about, though usually a craving for the least detail of the End-time characterizes the school. Especially was this reluctance seen in dealing with pre-millennial colleagues like Tregelles and B. W. Newton, who, with inconvenient persistence, pointed out the grave discrepancy between the new scheme of the End, and the plain teaching of Isaiah 25:8 and 1 Corinthians 15:54. So far as I am aware, no pre-trib writer has ever honestly faced the question."

"I wish now to cite the case of Darby. One would scarcely have expected him to expound a crucial passage in a manner that subverted his entire scheme of the prophetic future. Yet such is the case. It is not a little remarkable, and will astonish some. In his Second Coming he writes as follows in seeking to prove that the Advent must be pre-millennial:

I wish to refer you to the connection of the passage in the 15th of 1st Corinthians with the 25th of Isaiah, because the connection of these two things—the resurrection of the saints and the restoration of Israel—will thereby be strongly brought out. The Apostle says that "when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ If you turn to the 25th Isaiah, you will see that this takes place at this time which we call the millennium when, the Jews being restored to their place on the earth there is that era of blessedness among the nations which is commonly called the millennium. It is there said, Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers, as the heat in a dry place; even the heat with the shadow of a cloud: the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low. And in this mountain shall the Lord of Hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory.’" That is at the time the resurrection takes place; for it is said in Corinthians, "Then shall come to pass the saying which is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." And thus it appears that the time when this resurrection takes place is the time when the Lord restores Israel, when He establishes Israel’s place in Zion, and takes away the veil from off the face of all nations (p. 84).

Sound doctrine! Yet every word of it is a complete refutation of theories telling us that the resurrection does not synchronize with the millennium and the conversion of Israel, but precedes them by a period of from seven to seventy, if not hundreds of years—for there is not the slightest certainty or even knowledge on the question—and that this period is characterized by increasing lawlessness, and Israel’s reception of Antichrist.

Trotter also makes the same damaging admission. Commenting on 1 Corinthians 15:54 (Plain Papers on Prophetic Subjects), he remarks on the word "then:" "Not ‘eita’ as in verse 24, but ‘tote,’ the literal and uniform meaning of which is, at that time." He then continues:—

Now the only passage in which this saying is written is Isaiah 25:8 and there it is so interwoven with unmistakable predictions of millennial blessedness, that for the Apostle to say, as he here does, that it is to come to pass at the same time as the resurrection and glorification of the saints, is equivalent to his declaring in plain terms that the Millennium is thus introduced (pp. 468-9).

On the same text, Kelly says in his Second Coming: "It appears on apostolic authority that the epoch of the resurrection of the righteous is bound up with the return and deliverance of Israel, as well as with the millennial blessing of all nations" (p. 57).

This is the very point that we are contending for!"

These words of Reese are ably made in defense of the posttribulation viewpoint and against that of the pre-trib.  But, let me add some other arguments from I Corinthians chapter fifteen.  Paul says that the resurrection of the righteous dead is the time when Christ conquers the last enemy.  "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." (15: 26)  However, if the pre-trib view is correct, the destruction of death, by the resurrection of saints, does not destroy the last enemy, for the destruction of antichrist does not come till some time after this.  Antichrist is one of the enemies that Christ is to destroy with his coming.  (II Thess. 2: 8)  But, if death is the last enemy to be destroyed by the coming of Christ, then antichrist must have already been destroyed.  One cannot affirm that the resurrection of the righteous destroys the "last" enemy if antichrist remains to be destroyed.  It is obvious that the coming of Christ destroys all enemies, and the last to be destroyed is death.  Thus, antichrist is destroyed before death is destroyed by the resurrection (and rapture). 

Also, in verse 24 Paul says that the resurrection of the righteous will not only be when the "last enemy" is destroyed, but also "when he shall have put down all rule and all authority."  But, if the rise of antichrist and the ten kings of the beast occurs after this resurrection and coming of Christ, there is a contradiction.  If he does not "put down" these enemies till seven years later, then it could not be said at the time of the resurrection and rapture that he had then put down all.

Reese also wrote:

"Still another passage in 1 Corinthians calls for comment in any examination of the new theories of the Parousia. Anyone who has immersed himself in pre-trib prophetic literature knows that a vital part of their scheme of the End is the program of the resurrection. It is as follows:—

(1) The resurrection of the redeemed at the Advent according to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17.

(2) The resurrection of an immense multitude of saints, converted and martyred after the resurrection and Rapture, just mentioned. This takes place several years after the former one, namely: at the Day of the Lord.

(3) The resurrection of the rest of the dead at the conclusion of the millennium.

Let us test this by the teaching of the Apostle Paul; we quote from Weymouth’s version, not only for its greater faithfulness to the Greek at one or two important points, but for its happy illumination of some difficult sayings. It undoubtedly represents the attitude of modern scientific exegesis toward this passage of Scripture:

For seeing that death came through man, through man comes also the resurrection of the dead. For just as through Adam all die, so also through Christ all will be made alive again. But this will happen to each in the right order—Christ having been the first to rise, and afterwards Christ’s people rising at His return. Later on, comes the End when He is to surrender the Kingship to God, the Father, when He shall have overthrown all other government and all other authority and power. For He must continue King until He shall have put all His enemies under His feet (Ps. 8:6; 110:1). The last enemy that is to be overthrown is Death; for He will have put all things in subjection under His feet (1 Cor. 15:21-26).

Here is a passage where the great Apostle is dealing expressly with "the resurrection of the dead:" not merely of the righteous, but of the totality of the human race. Through Adam death passed upon all men; through Christ the whole human race shall be raised. And the Apostle even gives us the program of the resurrection:

1. Christ the first-fruits.

2. The redeemed, at Christ’s Coming to establish His kingly rule.

3. The End, when the rest of the dead are raised, at the close of Christ’s kingdom and His delivering the sovereignty to God the Father. Increasingly Lietzmann’s view is being followed that "End" means "Rest" or "Remainder."

Allowing for differences on details the great commentators of Germany are finding "in the passage a resurrection of the saints at the beginning of Christ’s Kingdom, and another at its close, in substantial agreement with John in the Apocalypse, chapter 20. One cannot fail to see that the interpretation is ruinous to Darby’s scheme; not a word is said about the resurrection of a special class of "tribulation" saints, seven years or more after the Coming, when the redeemed are raised. If Paul entertained any such notion, here was the appropriate place to say so, for he is distinguishing the classes in the resurrection of the whole human race."

In arguing this with a pre-tribber many years ago, the pre-tribber responded by saying that the resurrection of tribulation believers represented what are called "the gleanings."  That is, Christ is the firstfruits, the major body of saints, occuring at the coming of Christ, represents the "harvest";  but this harvest is not all, since there is to be another harvest of the "gleanings," of what was not harvested in the great harvest.  I challenged my pre-trib friend to give scriptural support for this view.  Paul spoke of no "gleaning" ressurection in I Cor. 15: 21-26 when he was giving the "order" of the resurrection.  Further, by definition, the gleanings were not a separate harvest, but the gathering of the scraps that were not harvested in the regular harvest.  Thus, for this view to have any merit, not only would support for it need to be found in scripture, but one would have to say that those saved people who represent the gleanings would be people who were saved at the time of the general harvest, but who, for some reason, were not then harvested.  They could not represent people who got saved after the harvest, for they would then be a totally new crop.  Yet, there are those pre-tribbers who do believe that the rapture is a selective rapture, resurrecting and catching up to the sky only the faithful Christians, leaving the unfaithful to be purified by the tribulation. 

When Paul says "then comes the end," after the resurrection (harvest) of "those who belong to Christ," at the parousia of Christ, he should say rather "then comes the gleanings, and then the end," if the view of my pre-trib friend were so.

The idea that "then comes the end" means "then next comes the end resurrection of the wicked" is a view that is held to by both Reese (post-tribber) and Seiss (pre-tribber).  I reject this view, believing that it rather means "then comes the end of the present age."  If this is the meaning of the apostle, it is a further blow to the idea that seven more years (or more) are yet to occur before the "end" of the age comes.  One will decide this point based upon whether Paul has the wicked in mind when he says "every man in his own order."  In the Greek there is no word for "man" (anthropos).  It is rather "each in his own order."  When Paul says "in Adam all die," he likely includes both saved and unsaved.  But, when he says "in Christ shall all be made alive," it is a debatable question whether both saved and unsaved are in the mind of the apostle.  Some will argue that he has only those "in Christ" in mind, meaning "those in Christ will be made alive," and thus when he says "each in his own order (rank)," he would mean "each righteous person in his own order."  Further, if this is the meaning, then clearly the "all" who die in Adam are not the same "all" who will be made alive in Christ. 

If the "all" who die in Adam are the "all" who will be made alive in Christ, then we would interpret "in Christ" instrumentally, meaning "by Christ" are made alive, and "in Christ" is not then to be interpreted as defining or limiting the "all" who are to be made alive.  It is certainly not denied that the resurrection of the wicked unto damnation is the result of the action of Christ who sends forth the reaping angels not only to call forth the just to their resurrection to life but who also sends for the reaping angels to call forth the unjust to their resurrection unto death and damnation. 

If Paul has in mind all men of both the righteous and unrighteous classes, then it would be natural to think that by "then comes the end" means "then comes the last resurrection."  He would be giving not simply the order of the resurrection of the righteous but of all men, including the unrighteous.  And, according to this view, the resurrection of the wicked would be last or least in order and rank.  Their resurrection is the last or end resurrection, which is in accordance with what is taught in Revelation chapter twenty about the first and second resurrections. 

One difficulty with this view is that the word "end" is a noun and not an adjective, so we cannot read "then comes the end resurrection."  Of course, Paul could mean "then comes the end of the resurrection ordered program."  Phrasing it this way the word "end" retains its function as a noun, but one is forced to add "of the resurrection," which is not a healthy practice to do when interpreting the words of scripture.  But, as Reese points out, some commentators translate the word "end" by the words "rest" or "remainder," thus the passage means "then comes the rest," which would be the wicked, the ones who were not part of "the first resurrection." 

Further, the word "then" comes from the Greek word "eita" which simply denotes sequence whereas the Greek word "tote" means "at that time," or immediately next.  The fact that "eita" is used rather than "tote" adds support to the idea that the resurrection of the wicked is in view, but it is not in itself determinative. 

Another important factor in deciding this point is what Paul says next - "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power."  (vs. 24)  "Then" and "when" go together.  If the "then" denotes what takes place after the millenium, to the resurrection of the unrighteous, then this would also have to be the time when Christ "puts down all rule and all authority."  But, this cannot be placed after the millenium, but must be placed at the time of the resurrection of the righteous, as before observed, and at the start of the millenium. 

Not only is the "end" at the time "when" all rule and authority are put down, when the last enemy is destroyed, but is also the time "when" Christ "delivers up the kingdom to God."  What does this refer to?  To something that begins the millenium or that ends it?  Whatever it is, it occurs at the same time as when Christ conquers all enemies, and this, as we have seen, precedes the millenium.  Those who would put it after the millenium would say that this statement refers to Christ "delivering up the millenial kingdom" to God, thus ending it and bringing on "the ages of the ages" that follow the millenium. 

It seems to me more likely that this delivering of the kingdom up to God is what is described in the Apocalypse in these words:

"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever."  (Rev. 11: 15) 

As was observed in previous postings, the sound of the seventh trumpet marks the time of the resurrection of the righteous, the very topic Paul is discussing in I Cor. chapter fifteen, and which he locates at the time of "the last trumpet."  This is what takes place at the start of the millenium. 

Further, the word "kingdom" (Greek "basileia") denotes dominion and rule, or the right and authority to rule and reign.  Thus, "the kingdom" that Christ receives at his coming is "the sovereignty" of the world, which receiving as the conquerer, delivers it up to the Father, as in fulfillment of the mission given to him by the Father. 

For these reasons, I do not think it is tenable to interpret "then comes the end" to mean "then comes the end of the resurrection, i.e. the resurrection of the wicked."  Rather, I think it means "then comes the end of the age," and this being the case, it is a further blow to the pre-trib view, for they do not believe that the end of the age comes at the time of the resurrection and rapture of the saints, but several years later.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

/ Hi Stephen, I saw this on the net. Any reaction? Kate /


Many evangelicals believe that Christ will "rapture" them to heaven years before the second coming and (most importantly) well BEFORE Antichrist and his "tribulation." But Acts 2:34, 35 reveal that Jesus is at the Father's right hand in heaven until He leaves to destroy His earthly foes at the second coming. And Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven with the Father "until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. ("The Rapture Question," by the long time No. 1 pretrib authority John Walvoord, didn't dare to even list, in its scripture index, the above verses! They were also too hot for John Darby - the so-called "father of dispensationalism" - to list in the scripture index in his "Letters"!)
Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening (Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! The "rest" for "all them that believe" is also tied to such destruction in II Thess. 1:6-10! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who'd be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the end of trib “death” (15:54). (Will death be ended before or during the trib? Of course not! And vs. 54 is also tied to Isa. 25:8 which Scofield views as Israel's posttrib resurrection!) It's amazing that the Olivet Discourse contains the "great commission" for the church but not even a hint of a pretrib rapture for the church!
Many don't know that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 this "rapture" was stretched forward and turned into an idolized separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which evangelical scholars overwhelmingly rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” ["gathering"] in 2:1 can happen – the height of desperation!). Google "Walvoord Melts Ice" for more on this.
Other Google articles on the 183-year-old pretrib rapture view include “X-Raying Margaret,” "Margaret Macdonald's Rapture Chart," "Pretrib Rapture's Missing Lines," "Edward Irving is Unnerving," "The Unoriginal John Darby," "Catholics Did NOT Invent the Rapture," "The Real Manuel Lacunza," “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” "Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal," "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy," “Deceiving and Being Deceived,” "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty," "Famous Rapture Watchers," and "Morgan Edwards' Rapture View" – most by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” (the most accurate and documented book on pretrib rapture history which is obtainable by calling 800.643.4645).