Dec 30, 2012

Air (aer) = Paradise?

I have great respect for Dr. J. R. Graves (1820-1893), a great Baptist minister.  Yet, I reject his landmarker views and his holding to a pre-trib view of the coming of Christ, to his affirming that the second coming of Christ will occur twice.  In reading his book "The Seven Dispensations," he says that "the air" of I Thess. 4: 17 is "paradise"!  (pg. 409).  He wrote:

"So it will be at the unseen coming of Christ for his saints;  they, and they alone, will hear his voice, and in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, will be silently caught up to meet the Lord in the air--Paradise--whither the risen saints have just preceded them to receive their glorified bodies." 

Besides the gross error of making the coming of Christ a secret and silent event, he says that the "air" where the saved family of God "meet" the Lord is Paradise.  But, as I have shown in a previous posting, the Greek word for "air" is "aer" and denotes the lower firmament, the sphere of air that is below the mountains in distinction to the air that is above the mountains.  Further, it is the place of the "clouds," as the text says, "caught up together with them in the clouds."  Where does Graves get his authority for calling this area "Paradise"?  So, when I fly in an airplane, I am in Paradise?  Honestly, some of the things the pre-trib teachers say is laughable. 

Of the coming of Christ, described by Paul in I Thess. 4: 13-17, Graves wrote:

"It will not be announced by trumpet sounds audible to the world, or characterized by the visible pomp and pageantry that will make notable his coming with his saints to judge the nations, but his sleeping saints will hear his voice, and come forth, and their open graves mahy be the only evidence to the living wicked that they have been raised, while living saints will be silently as suddenly caught away, 'in a moment, in the twinkling of an ey, to meet their Lord in the air--Paradise--and the sudden absence from their midst of all the recognized righteous will be the only warning of their coming doom the wicked will ever receive."  (pg. 406-407)

Notice that Graves again says that the "air" is Paradise.  Notice how he, in typical pre-trib fashion, makes the coming of Christ to be secret and silent.  Yet, the "shout" of Christ, and the "voice of the archangel," and "the trumpet of God" show that it is anything but silent.  Graves says that no one but the saved living and dead hear these sounds, but where does he get his authority for affirming this?  In Joshua 6: 5 we read:

"And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him." 

It seems to me that Graves has as much a right to say that these sounds were not heard by the inhabitants of Jericho as to say that the world will not hear the sounds that will accompany the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.    Further, Jesus said:   "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."  (Matt. 24: 31)

A great sound and yet only saved people shall hear it!  Incredulous!   Further, it is absurd to say that the coming of Christ will first be an invisible coming, visible to the saved, but to no one else.  Again, where does Graves and the pre-tribbers get their authority to say such things?  Is it not adding to the word of God?  John wrote:   "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen."  (Rev. 1: 7)

"Every eye shall see him"!  Not just the eyes of the righteous!  How can any pre-tribber honestly say that the coming of the Lord will be invisible to the world?  Yes, I know, the pre-tribber will affirm that the coming of the Lord in Rev. 1: 7 is not the same coming of the Lord as described in I Thess. 4: 13-17.  But, again, I ask, where is the authority for saying that they are not the same coming?  Where is their authority for saying that the Lord will have more than one coming again?  The coming of both texts has Christ coming in or with the "clouds."  Further, if he is coming bodily to the lower air, how will this not be visible?   His ascent was visible (Acts 1) and he will come in like manner.  Jesus also said:

"For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."  (Matt. 24: 27)

Here Jesus says his coming will be as visible to men on earth as is lightning! 

This doctrine of two comings of the Lord, one visible and the other invisible, and separated by a period of years is a new doctrine, was not taught and believed until the 19th century.  It is a novelty and a dangerous doctrine too.

Dec 28, 2012

Post Tribulation Rapture VIII

"Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.  The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years."  (Rev. 20: 4-6 NASB)

The Resurrection immediately precedes the rapture (1 Thess. 4:13-17; I Cor. 15: 52). Revelation 20:4-6 shows that "the first resurrection" occurs after the tribulation. This is very problematic for those who affirm that most of the saved were resurrected seven years prior to Rev. 20.  In point of time the resurrection of this passage cannot be the first if most of the elect were resurrected seven years previously.  The standard pre-trib rebuttal to this is to affirm that "the first resurrection" has stages or phases and that Rev. 20 merely gives the last stage.  According to this view, the word "first" (prōtos) excludes any idea of priority of time, but strictly means "first in rank" or importance.  Though this is possible, it is highly unlikely. 

First, when John says "first resurrection" he implies a second or last resurrection and refers to this last resurrection by the words "the rest of the dead lived not again until."  Clearly a time element is involved in his defining what is the last resurrection.  In defining the two resurrections mentioned in the passage, they are defined by their being separated by a period of time, "a thousand years."  Why is the "first resurrection" first?  It is because it occurs before the last resurrection.  Thus, if "first" is used to distinguish the resurrection of the blessed and holy from the resurrection of the unblessed and unholy, it is not merely because of rank but of time.  The first resurrection is "first" in both rank and time.  In speaking of the "second death," the word "second" does not exclude the time element.  "Second death" implies a first death, which would be physical death.  Both "first death" (implied) and "second death" are used not merely with the idea of rank in mind, but also with the idea of time and chronology. 

Second, no one affirms that there are stages to the last resurrection of the wicked.  If there are no stages to the final resurrection of the wicked, there is probably none to the first resurrection either.

Third, when John describes the resurrection of the blessed and holy, which includes the tribulation martyrs, he says plainly "this is the first resurrection."  He does not say "this is the second or third stage of the first resurrection" or "this is also the first resurrection."

Fourth, in the description of the various groups that are resurrected to sit with Christ on his millenial throne, there is included the saved of the pre-tribulation times, believers from both the old and new testament periods (as we shall see).  And, they are resurrected and sit on thrones after the tribulation and coming of Christ.

Fifth, the text says that those resurrected in Rev. 20: 4-6 are resurrected a thousand years before the wicked, not a thousand and seven years. 

Sixth, in I Cor. 15: 23-24 there is no mention of multiple resurrections for the righteous.  Paul does not say "Christ the firstfruits, afterward, the church age saints, then the tribulation saints seven years later, then the end."

Seventh, in I Cor. 15: 51-52 Paul says "we shall all be changed, in a moment...at the last trump."  Were there various stages to the resurrection of the righteous, then Paul would have said "some of us will be changed at the last trump and some at other times."  The word "all" refers to the saved of all the ages, both those who have died and those who are alive at the time of the coming of Christ.  Notice that it is in the same moment that "all" the saved are changed, which overthrows the pre-trib tenet that says not all are changed at the same time.

According to the pre-tribbers, "the first resurrection" has three stages.  Christ, they say, is the first stage.  He also experienced the "first resurrection."  Next, they say, is the resurrection of all the saved dead when Christ comes (supposedly) in the rapture just prior to the start of the great tribulation.  Some even say that the two witnesses of Revelation chapter eleven, who are raised from the dead and caught up into heaven, represent another stage in "the first resurrection."  Finally, they say, we have the final stage of "the first resurrection" in Revelation twenty after the tribulation.  But, the arguments above disprove this idea.  And, Christ cannot be included in those who are in the first resurrection.

The text says, of those who experience the first resurrection, "they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him," but, how can Christ be included in the pronoun "they"?  If Christ is included in "the first resurrection," then we may read the verse - "and he shall be a priest of God and of Christ and reign with Christ."  How can Christ be a priest of himself and reign with himself?  When the Scriptures speak of "the resurrection of the just," it does not include Christ.  His resurrection is singular and unique in itself. 

In considering Revelation 20: 4-5, Alexander Reese wrote (emphasis mine):

"There are three distinct classes mentioned in the passage.

(a) First, there are those of whom John says: "I saw thrones and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them" (4a).

Who are these? The whole body of saints who live to see the Parousia at this time; they are transferred from earth to occupy thrones in the kingly rule of Christ; it is the Rapture of the survivors in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. It is not said that this class was raised from the dead; but simply that they took the thrones prepared for them. We have seen them suffering and enduring throughout the book; now they are seen as over-comers who inherit the sovereignty in the kingdom. It is here that they receive the Morning Star.

A decisive conclusion follows from the enthronement of the living saints at 20:4a; it is that Darbyist (pre-trib SG) theories are excluded. These presuppose that the heavenly redeemed, including those who survive to the Parousia, occupy their thrones and are glorified several years before the Millennium. We are to see all this in the Twenty-four Elders crowned and seated in chapter 4. But our passage locates the sitting upon thrones at the beginning of the Millennium. The language is clear and decisive on the point. John says: "I saw thrones;" obviously they were empty. Then he adds: "and they sat upon them;" that is, he sees a company in the very act of sitting down on their thrones. It is now, not a generation earlier, that the living saints are rewarded and ascend their thrones. Matthew 19:28, says the same thing of the Apostles, locating their enthronement at this very time.

(b) John mentions a second class that is honored at this time: "I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God" (R.V.).

(c) Thirdly, he speaks of "such as worshipped not the beast, neither his image, and received not the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand."

Of these two classes we read that "they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

It is contended by theorists that these two classes consist only of saints who are to be converted and martyred after the Church is removed to heaven; they are those who die during, or just before, the Great Tribulation, and have no connection with the Church in Christ Jesus. There is some truth, but more error in these views. It is true that the third class consists of those who fall in the last Great Tribulation. Whether they have any connection with the Church, I leave for the present. But it is thoroughly wrong to limit the second class—those "that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and the word of God" —to latter-day saints, martyred, as Grant says, "in the time of the seals." It is wrong to assert that this class includes no Christians, but is restricted to half-enlightened Jews and Gentiles raised a generation after the Church. The proof of this is simple; the Church herself is not raised until this very time. Such is the doctrine of Christ, Paul, and of John in this very book (Rev. 11:15-18). Secondly, without raising questions to be fully discussed later, it is to be insisted, and strongly insisted upon, that "beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God" is a description, and a glorious description, of the martyrdom of a Christian. Unnumbered multitudes throughout the Church’s history, including Peter and Paul, have been slain "for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God." It is here they rise.

As if to shut out once for all the theories that have been based upon this passage, John himself has interpreted it for us. In chapter 1:9, we read: "I John, your brother, and partaker with you in the tribulation and kingdom and patience, which are in Jesus, was in the isle called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (R.V.).

Here is the same expression, and it is applied by John the Apostle to himself. In his valuable work on The Seven Churches, Abp. Trench says:

The unprejudiced reader will hardly be persuaded that St. John sets himself forth here as any other than such a constrained dweller in Patmos, one dwelling there not by his own choice, but who had been banished thither "for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ" (p. 21).

We may still be sure that "for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" explained the reason of John’s tribulation in A.D. 96, and the death of martyrs at that time. They were slain, in a word, because they were Christians, that is, they adhered to Christ’s teaching and God’s word, even at the cost of their lives.

Equally certain is it, therefore, that the same expression in Revelation 20:4, must denote the same class of people. To tell us that it means Christians in Revelation 1:9 and non or semi-Christians in Revelation 20:4 is to put an enormous strain on our credulity. No reasonable doubt can exist that when John says that he saw "the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God" come to life, he is meaning to depict the resurrection of all who, since the time of Christ, have been slain because of their Christian service and belief. Not one syllable requires us to restrict it to those slain in the time of the Seventieth Week. In contrast to those of the next class—who fall under Antichrist—this one contains the resurrection of all the martyrs slain throughout the history of the Church. And it is to be noted that it takes place at the beginning of the millennium, not several years or decades before it."

"At the Last Trumpet (Rev. 11:18) the saints "appear before the judge" (Cf. 12:12): at 20:4a—which is immediately subsequent—they themselves sit on thrones and "share His glory."

In the light of Daniel 7:9, 13-14, 22, 27, 1 Corinthians 6:2, 4:8, 15:22-23, 2 Timothy 2:11-12, Luke 12:32, there can be no doubt that it is the whole company of the heavenly redeemed—the prophets, saints, and godly of Revelation 11:18—who are here raised or changed at the Parousia, to share the kingly rule of our Lord.

It is wrong, therefore, to assert, as some advocates and most critics of Pre-millennialism assert, that the first resurrection is limited to martyrs. Such an idea is foreign to all Scripture, and is not required by our passage. In Luke 14:14, it is "the just" who are raised; in John 6:39, 44, it is "the Elect" (Cf. Matthew 24:31), in John 6:40, "believers;" in 6:54, those who feed on the Son of Man; in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, "the dead in Christ;" in 1 Corinthians 15:23, "they that are Christ’s;" whilst John teaches in Revelation 11:18 that the whole company of the redeemed will rise and be rewarded; and Revelation 20:4a presupposes it; we have only to interpret the latter Scripture in the larger context of the Apocalypse, and the whole N.T.

In confirmation of our general view of Revelation 20:4, I append the words of two writers with large claims on the attention of students of prophecy. In the first extract Canon Faussett extends the denotation of those in the first class, and, in the last resort, he is right; but, me judice (in my opinion), Zahn is the more accurate. In the "British Weekly" debate of 1887 Faussett wrote: "Three classes are designated to live and reign with Christ as ‘priests of God and of Christ, a thousand years;’ first, the saints caught up to meet and return with the Lord: ‘they sat upon thrones;’ secondly, the martyrs beheaded for the witness of Jesus; thirdly, ‘such as worshipped not the beast’ (world-power)." Zahn interprets in his INT (vol. 3, p. 400).

With this the seventh vision (19:11-21:8) is introduced. Here is at last represented the event which was by intimation anticipated as far back as 8:1, and again in 11:15-18 and 19:7, announced as being in the immediate future. Jesus Himself comes upon the scene of action in order that after overcoming Antichrist and binding Satan, He may enter upon His kingly rule of a thousand years upon earth—a reign in which there shall participate not only the congregation who live to witness His coming, but also those who remained true till death, and who on that day are to be brought to life. Not till the millennium has expired do the general judgment, the destruction of death, and the creation of a new world take place."

"The Apostle has condemned the new program by linking the first resurrection with the millennium; and for most people at least there can be no resurrection before "the first.""

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.

Post Tribulation Rapture VI

In overthrowing the pre-trib scheme, one must show 1) that the resurrection of all the saints occurs at the same time and 2) that this occurs at the last day of the present age.  It is to be noted that not all pre-tribbers are in agreement regarding these points, but it is agreed by them all that not all the saved are raised at the same time nor that they are all raised on the "last day." 

Some dispensationalists, like J. Dwight Pentecost, believe that only those who are part of the new testament church are resurrected and raptured, and that Israel and tribulation believers are resurrected and raptured seven years later, at the end of the great tribulation.  Many pretribbers disagree with Pentecost and believe that the old testament saints will be resurrected at the same time the believers of the church are resurrected and raptured.  Yet, all pre-tribbers are in agreement that not all the righteous are resurrected at the same time, at the time of the rapture of I Thess. 4: 13-17. 

Needless to say, the resurrection of believers takes place at the same time when the saints who live until the coming of the Lord, when both will be raptured.  (I Thess. 4: 13-17)  Thus, if we can ascertain when the saved are resurrected we will be able to ascertain when the rapture occurs.  Alexander Reese ("The Approaching Advent of Christ") was correct to state - "wheresoever the resurrection is, there will the Rapture be also." (CHAPTER II-THE RESURRECTION OF THE SAINTS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, chapter II - see here)

At The Last Day

"And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.  And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day...No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day...Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."  (John 6: 39-40, 44, 54)

Four times Jesus says of believers that he will raise them up "at the last day."  Further, this was the belief of old testament believers.

"Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day."  (John 11: 24)

In commenting upon the above verses, Reese wrote(see here):

"It is worthy of note that in every case in the above texts the resurrection referred to is clearly that of the faithful dead. It is the resurrection of "life" (John 5:29), inasmuch as Christ promises it to those who believe and feed on Him. With Martha the resurrection of her brother is a matter of hope, for he had waited for the consolation of Israel. In other words, these texts all speak of the "resurrection of the just" (Luke 14:14). And we are told in every case that it takes place "at the last day." Here is a very definite point of time; does it differ from that marked for the resurrection by Isaiah 26:19, 25:8; Daniel 12:1-3, and 12:13? It does not; there is complete agreement between the prophecies of Isaiah and Daniel, and the words of the Lord Jesus. Our Lord, however, is more specific. Isaiah had associated the resurrection with the conversion of Israel, the Coming of Jehovah, and the inauguration of the Messianic Age of blessedness for all peoples. Daniel linked it with the overthrow of Antichrist, the close of the Great Tribulation, and the deliverance of living Israel from the last great struggle. Our Lord associates it with the Last Day of the pre-Messianic Age, which is the same thing. Well does Meyer say: "It is the first resurrection that is meant (see on Luke 14:14, 20:34 Phil. 3:2; 1 Cor. 15:23), that to the everlasting life of the Messianic Kingdom."  (On John 6:39; italics his.)

The true sense of the phrase "the last day" is also given by Bullinger in his Apocalypse. "Martha expressed her belief in the resurrection ‘at the last day’ (John 11:24); i.e., the last day, at the end of the present age, and immediately before the introduction of the new age of the thousand years" (p. 621).

It is important to bear in mind, as Plummer in his Matthew has said, that "the Jews divided time into two ages, the Messianic Age, and that which preceded it" (p. 180). This was a fundamental idea of Hebrew eschatology; and it was adopted by our Lord and His Apostles. Our Lord, for example, in speaking of those who have left home, and relatives, and possessions for the sake of the Kingdom, observes that even "in this present time" they receive much more than they lose, whilst "in the world (age) to come" they shall receive life everlasting (Mark 10:30). Here, as frequently in the Gospels and Epistles, the pre-Messianic Age is contrasted with the Age of the Kingdom.

Now our Lord teaches us in His discourse on the Bread of Life that the resurrection of His people—not merely of the faithful in Israel, but of all who believe in His Name, and feed upon Him by faith-will take place "at the last day." And having regard to His fundamental ideas on Eschatology there can be no doubt that "the last day" is the closing day of the Age that precedes the Messianic Kingdom of glory. This is the conception of the Prophets: Jehovah comes; Antichrist is slain; Israel repents; the sleeping saints rise; the Kingdom comes in power. It is the last day of this present evil Age, the first of the Age to come. This is also the doctrine of Christ, except that the resurrection now embraces those that the Father has given to Him, and have life through His name.

Jesus said unto them, "The sons of this age marry, and are given in marriage: but they that are accounted worthy to attain to that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; for neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection" (Luke 20: 34-36 R.V. mg.).

Here again in the clearest manner "that age" —the age to come—is contrasted with "this age" —the Age that now is. Here are the two great divisions of Hebrew eschatology: the present Age of Gentile dominion, Jewish subjection, and civilization without God; and that Age, when the dead shall be raised and the Kingdom introduced by the Messiah. It is these two ages that our Lord has in mind. In this present Age mortal men marry and give in marriage. But they who are counted worthy of the future Age marry not, for they become sexless as the angels, being sons of God and sons of the resurrection. It is important to note the order of the words "they that are accounted worthy to attain to that age, and the resurrection from the dead" —not "the resurrection from the dead, and that age;" but first, the Messianic Age, then the resurrection. The resurrection of the just is the first result of the Messianic reign.

This passage is in exact accordance with the one last considered —"I will raise him up at the last day." For, just as the last note of one octave is the first note of the next, so the last day of this present Age is the first of the Messianic Age to follow."  (Chapter III)

J. Dwight Pentecost, in his famous work "Things to Come," wrote against the posttribulation position as defended by Alexander Reese in his book "The Approaching Advent of Christ." In chapter eleven, "Posttribulation Rapture Theory," Pentecost wrote:

"But if one separates the resurrection of the church from the resurrection of Israel, there is no strength left in Reese's argument." (pg. 173)

"Thus it is wrong to conclude that 'that day' or 'the last day' must teach that all saints will be resurrected at the same moment of time. It must be observed, also, that the passages Reese uses from the Gospels (John 6: 39-54; Luke 20: 34-36; Matt. 13: 43; Luke 14: 14-15) all apply to God's program for Israel. If it be shown that this resurrection does take place at the second advent, it does not prove posttribulation rapturism, unless the church must be resurrected at the same point in time. This is a false premise." (pg. 175)

"Reese's error is in supposing all the righteous dead must be raised at the same time." (pg. 175)

Pentecost speaks for the dispensational school of premillenialism.  He affirms that the error of Reese and those of the posttribulation view is that they apply the promise of resurrection to immortality and eternal life, in the above verses, to all believers, whereas Pentecost insists that it is limited to the nation Israel.  It is the height of absurdity for Pentecost to say that the promise of being raised up at the last day does not apply to Gentile believers in the church.  When Jesus says "he who comes to me" he excludes believers in the new testament church?  How absurd is that?  That is true only of Israel? 

Many pre-tribbers will disagree with Pentecost on this, and will affirm that believers of all ages will be resurrected and raptured at the coming of the Lord per I Thess. 4: 13-17.  The only people many pre-tribbers will affirm are not resurrected or raptured at this time are those who are saved during the time of the great tribulation.  But, if we can show that all the saved are resurrected at the same time, this overthrows the view that the great tribulation follows the resurrection of the righteous. 

Pentecost, since he believes that the promise of resurrection on "the last day" does not belong to any believer in the church, interprets "the last day" as being truly the "last day," the day that ends the great tribulation and begins the millenial reign of Christ.  Pentecost is correct to affirm that "the last day" is after the great tribulation but he is wrong to exclude new testament believers who compose the church from the promise.  He is wrong to restrict this promise to Israel only.  Other pre-tribbers deny that the promise of resurrection on the last day is limited to Israel.  Their answer to these verses will be to affirm that "the last day" denotes the last day of the church age, which church age ends with the start of the seven year period of tribulation.  Thus, "the last day" is not the last day before the millenium, but the last day before the great tribulation. 

There are a number of problems with this view, however.  First of all, it makes the tribulation an "age" all to itself, not properly a part of the church age, or present age, nor properly of the millenial age.  Secondly, it gives a foreign and strange idea to the term "the last day." 

Those who are resurrected at the coming of Christ, at the time of the rapture, includes all who "sleep in Jesus."  Some pre-tribbers agree with post-tribbers that this denotes all the saved dead from the beginning of the world.  Other pre-tribbers of the dispensational school, such as Pentecost, believe that those who "sleep in Jesus" only denotes those who have been saved and died during the church age, and excludes old testament believers. 

It is clear to me that the righteous dead of the old testament times will be resurrected at the same time as the righteous dead of new testament times and that this is the resurrection of I Thess. 4: 13-17.  And, if this is indeed the resurrection of all the righteous dead, then the time of the rapture and resurrection of I Thess. 4 occurs "at the last day."  But, it cannot be the last day if several more years are to transpire before the coming of Christ to reign. 

End of the Age

When is the end of the age? Jesus and the new testament writers speak of it in several places. Is "the end of the age" a point in time before the time of the great tribulation and apocalyptic judgments or immediately after?

"The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world (age); and the reapers are the angels.  As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world (age)...So shall it be at the end of the world (age): the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."  (Matt. 13: 39-40, 49-50)

The "last day" is that which marks "the end of the age."  The age that is now is called by the Apostle Paul "this present evil age."  (Gal. 1: 4)  This "present evil age" either includes the time of the great tribulation or it does not.  If it includes the time of the coming tribulation and day of wrath, then the pre-trib view is overthrown.  It is at "the last day" and "at the end of the age" that the wheat, symbol of the saved, are reaped (i.e. resurrected, translated, and raptured to meet the Lord).  Reese wrote:  "...the idea of another evil age succeeding this one is a mere figment of Gaebelein’s imagination; the age, according to Scripture, that succeeds this present Age, is the millennium."

That the tribulation period is a part of the present evil age is evident for a number of reasons.  In verse 43, Jesus sums up the parable of the wheat and tares by saying - "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear."  Notice that it is "at that time" ("then" Greek "tote"), at the time of the resurrection of the righteous, that the righteous "shine forth in the kingdom," in the millenial kingdom.  But, if the millenial kingdom is yet seven years away from the time of the resurrection, this would not be true.  Matthew 13: 43 is a clear reference to Daniel 12:2-3, which speaks of resurrection.  Those who are raised to everlasting life are all the righteous dead who sleep in the dust of the earth.

"And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world (age)?...And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet...But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved...And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."  (Matt. 24: 3, 6, 13-14)

Throughout the Olivet Discourse "the end of the age" is the end of the present evil age that includes the tribulation period.  It follows the preaching of the Gospel in all the world.  It is the same message given to the disciples after the resurrection.  "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world (age). Amen." (Matt. 28: 20)  Christ is with the disciples in carrying out the great commission up till the time when the age ends.  Further, the end of the age is the time when the the saved go forth to "meet" the bridegroom, and this meeting is the rapture. "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom."  (Matt. 25: 1)

"Waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall also confirm you unto the end (telos), that ye be unreproveable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ ."  (I Cor. 1: 7-8 RV)

Clearly "the end" is equated with "the revelatin of our Lord Jesus Christ" and with "the day of the Lord Jesus Christ."  Wrote Reese:

"There is a wealth of exegetical literature to confirm our view that the End here is the Parousia of Christ. It is scarcely necessary to cite it, because the juxtaposition of the two eschatological terms Revelation and Day of Christ, which all the pre-trib leaders applied to the Day of the Lord, is right at hand to show what Paul meant. Yet a few brief quotations will be serviceable. A. T. Robertson says that "Unto the End" means "End of the age till Jesus comes, final preservation of the saints" (iv., p. 71). Robertson and Plummer in ICC say: "The doctrine of the approach of the end is continually in the Apostle’s thoughts: 3:13; 4:5; 6:2, 3; 7:29; 11:26; 15:51; 16:22" (p. 7). Godet says in his commentary: "The end is the Lord’s coming again, for which the Church should constantly watch, for the very reason that it knows not the time of it; compare Luke 12:35 and 36; Mark 13:32 (p. 58). Canon Evans in one of the more brilliant volumes of the Speaker’s Commentary remarks: "The end, not of life, but of this Aeon, or dispensation." So also Alford, Bachmann, Bousset, and J. Weiss."  (chpt. 8)

Thus, in summary, the Scriptures clearly state that the resurrection of the righteous occurs at the last day and at the end of the age, which could not be the case if several years transpire after the last day and after the end of the age.  The Scriptures also show that it is at the end of the age that the "age to come" begins, which age is the millenial age.

Dec 25, 2012

Post Tribulation Rapture V

"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be...Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."   (Matt. 24: 21, 29-30)

"And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."  (Rev. 7: 14)

A better translation of "out of great tribulation" would be "out of the tribulation, the great one."  There is the definite article before both "tribulation" and "great."  It is doubtless the very one foretold by Christ in his Olivet Discourse.  It is also doubtless that one foretold by the prophet Daniel who wrote: 

"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."  (Daniel 12: 1-2)

It is also that time spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah in these words:

"Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it."  (Jer. 30: 7)

Needless to say, these verses show that the saints will go through the tribulation.  How can saints come out of the great tribulation if they were never in it?  How can it be the time of trouble for God's people if they are not experiencing that trouble?  How can they be "saved out of" the tribulation if they are not in it?  All this is devastating to the view that the saints will all be translated and resurrected prior to the tribulation so that they are not even on the earth when it occurs.  All the advocates for the pre-trib view can do is to try to say that these saints, who are in the tribulation, are those who have been converted after the church age, after the Holy Spirit has been removed along with all the saved.  But, how can any be saved without the presence of the church and the Holy Spirit?  It is not possible. 

It is the common view of pre-trib advocates that II Thess. 2: 6-8 shows that both the church and the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth prior to the coming of the great tribulation.

"And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed.  For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way."  (NASB)

 It is the view of A.W. Pink, for example, that the saved are referred to by "what restrains him" and that the Holy Spirit is referred to by "he who now restrains" and that it is not until they and he are "taken out of the way."  Therefore, those who are supposedly saved during the tribulation period are saved without the Holy Spirit or the church.  Who can believe such nonsense?

Not only do the verses already cited show that the saints are in the tribulation, but that they are the object of the persecution of the antichrist and his hordes. 

"I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them."  (Dan. 7: 21)

"And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations."  (Rev. 13: 7)

If antichrist makes war with the saints, then obviously they were not removed from earth by a prior rapture.  The only thing that the pre-tribber can do is to say that these are people who are saved after the church age, after all the saved have been removed from earth along with the Holy Spirit.  But, this is reading into the text one's preconcieved views.  It is eisegesis, not exegesis.  Let us see how the Apocalypse uses the term "saints." 

"...having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints."  (Rev. 5: 8)

"...and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.  And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand."  (8: 3-4)

How could these "saints" be limited to saved souls after the rapture and coming of Christ?  Surely they refer to the saved of all the ages, "to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven...and to the spirits of just men made perfect."  (Heb. 12: 23)

"And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth."  (11: 18)

"Here is the patience and the faith of the saints."  (13: 10)   "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."  (14: 12)

Is the reference to the "saints" in these verse limited to tribulation believers?  Are they the only ones who have the patience and faith of Christ?  The only ones who "keep the commandments of God" and keep "the faith of Jesus"?  Surely not.

"...just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints."  (15: 3)   "For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets..."  (16: 6)

"...for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."  (19: 8)

Again, these verses that describe the "saints" cannot be limited to tribulation saints, but is a term to denote those who are Christians.  Thus, it is wrong to speak of these saints as being no part of the church or of the church age.  The church, in Scripture, is equated with the body of Christ.  Are these tribulation saints then no part of the body of Christ?  Were they not of the number who were purchased by the blood of the Lord? (Acts 20: 28)  Such an idea is to be rejected. 

The thing that the pre-tribber must do is to prove that the "church age" ends years before the millenial age, or "age to come," commences and to show how the tribulation period is an intervening age which is no part of either the church or present age or of the age to come.  On this we will have more to say in upcoming posts. 

With these Scriptures that speak of the Lord's people, from both Jews and Gentiles, or Christians who are part of the body of Christ, the prima facie evidence is that they are present in the time of the tribulation of the Apocalypse and cannot therefore have been removed from the earth prior to it.  Further, since it is the common use of the biblical writers of the new testament, and of John in the Apocalypse, to refer to saints as those who comprise the one body of Christ, it is the burden of the pretribber to show how "saints" in the tribulation period are not part of the body of Christ. 

Through Tribulation

"Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."  (Acts 14: 22)

The idea of entering the kingdom of God through tribulation is what is vividly portrayed in the Apocalypse.  It is also in keeping with the prayer of Christ.

"I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil."  (John 17: 15)

The pre-tribber believes that it is the will of the Lord to take believers "out of the world" so that they be kept from the evil of the great tribulation, but this is just exactly what Christ prayed would not be.  It is the will of the Lord that believers be present during the coming great tribulation and that they be kept amidst it.  This is seen in type in the old testament, in the judgments meted out on the land of Egypt just prior to the Exodus.  The elect of God were indeed taken out of Egypt, were delivered from the plagues of judgment, but it was not until the judgments had been sent upon the land.  If the pre-trib view were correct, we would expect that the Israelites would have been taken out of Egypt prior to the judgments being sent, but this is not what actually happened.  Further, the Lord's keeping of the Israelites from the evil of the judgments upon Egypt was not by taking them out, but by preserving them in the midst of it.

"Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."  (Luke 21: 36)

The Greek word for "escape" is "ekpheugō" and means to escape out.  The prefix "ek" denotes "out of."  But, how can one escape "out of" the coming tribulation if one was never "in" it?  W. E. Vine says it means "to flee out of a place" (ek, "out of," and No. 1), is said of the "escape" of prisoners."  But, if a prisoner escapes from prison, does that not imply that the prisoner was first "in" prison?  Earlier we saw how the saints "come out of" the great tribulation and this verse simply says the same thing.

"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."  (Rev. 3: 10)

The Greek word translated "keep" (tēreō) means, according to Strong, "to attend to carefully, take care of" and "to guard," and "to keep, one in the state in which he is."  Also the Greek word for "from" in the text is from the Greek preposition "ek" which means "out of."  Thus, again, the promise is one of protection in the midst of the coming time of testing.  Did the Lord not keep the Israelites out of the Egyptian judgments?  But, how did he do this?  Is it not by guarding and protecting them while they were yet in the land where the judgments occurred? 

The idea that the rapture will take out all the godly and leave only the ungodly in the world is contrary to Scripture.  Yet, it is the constant preaching of the pre-tribbers that this is what is to take place when Christ returns in the rapture.  But, if this is so, then the harvest of the saved precedes the harvest of the unsaved, and this is contrary to the teaching of Jesus in the parable of the wheat and the tares.  Jesus said that both will be harvested "at the end of the age."  He also will say to the reaping angels "gather first the tares."  (Matt. 13: 30)  However, the pre-tribber says that the wheat will be first gathered.

The pre-trib view also says that the saints will be removed from the earth at the coming of Christ and that the wicked will be left on the earth.  But, this is contrary to the Scriptures. 

"But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it."  (Prov. 2: 22)

"But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up."  (Matt. 15: 13) 

"For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it."  (Prov. 2: 21)

"For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth."  (Psa. 37: 9)

Thus, the pre-tribber has it all wrong.  The ones who are uprooted and taken away are the wicked, and the ones left are the righteous. 

"For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left."  (Matt. 24: 38-41)

This verse is often cited by pre-tribbers to uphold the idea that the coming of Christ and the rapture takes away the righteous and leaves the wicked upon the earth.  But, this is a misreading of the text.  Who was "taken away" by the flood?  Was it not the wicked?  Who were left?  Was it not the righteous? 

Dec 20, 2012

Post Tribulation Rapture IV

"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day."  (II Thess. 1: 7-10)

"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."  (II Thess. 2: 1-12)

In looking at what is taught by the Apostle Paul in these texts, it is clear that he is talking about the coming (parousia) of the Lord Jesus Christ and that he refers to it as also being the apocalypse and epiphany of Christ.  He also shows that the rapture ("our gathering together unto him") is that which occurs at the parousia, apocalypse, and epiphany of Christ.  He refers to this event also as "the day of Christ." 

At Hand

Paul denies that the coming of the Lord or the rapture is "at hand."  The  Greek word is enistēmi and denotes what is either impending or present.  One who reads an English translation of the new testament scriptures might think that Paul here denies what he and other writers affirm elsewhere.  He said in Romans 13: 12 that "the day is at hand."  But the Greek word here is not enistēmi but eggizō which means drawing near or approaching.  The day of the Lord is not imminent, but it is drawing near, approaching.  It is the same word used by Peter when he says "the end of all things is at hand."  (I Peter 4: 7) 

This single statement by the Apostle Paul should be enough to refute the pre-trib teaching that the Apostles taught the "any moment" or "imminent" return of Christ.  Greek scholar Lightfoot translates "at hand" as "is imminent."  Paul denied that the coming of Christ and the gathering together (rapture) of believers was imminent!  Though the Thessalonians thought the coming of Christ was "at hand," or imminent, Paul denies it to be so.  Greek scholar A.T. Robertson says:

"Certainly it flatly denies that by conversation or by letter he had stated that the second coming was immediately at hand." 

He also said:

"Moreover, Paul's words should make us hesitate to affirm that Paul definitely proclaimed the early return of Jesus. He hoped for it undoubtedly, but he did not specifically proclaim it as so many today assert and accuse him of misleading the early Christians with a false presentation." 

In commenting upon "for it will not be," he writes:

"The second coming not only is not "imminent," but will not take place before certain important things take place, a definite rebuff to the false enthusiasts of verse 2."   (Word Pictures)

Pre-trib commentators think that the Greek word enistēmi means "present" and so they judge the error of the Thessalonians to be that they thought that Christ had already come and that they had missed out on meeting him in the air and that this is why they are in tribulation or suffering persecution.  They reason that the Thessalonians believed in a pre tribulation coming of Christ, and a pre tribulaton rapture, and that since they were in tribulation, Christ's parousia was then already a fact, already a present reality.  However, if the Greek word enistēmi does not mean "already present," but impending or imminent, then this would argue that they believed that the tribulation that they were experiencing was proof that the coming of Christ, the gathering rapture, and day of Christ, was immediately to occur. 

When an event is imminent, we say that it is "near."  Likewise, when an object is near to another object, we may say that it is near.  In the first instance we use the word "near" in regard to time, but in the latter case we use the word "near" in regard to space.  But, Paul does not use enistēmi spatially but in respect to time and chronology.  Thus, the word "present" is not the correct translation of the Greek word.  Today, being December 20th, I can say that Christmas is "near."  But, can I say that it is "present" because it is "near"?  I can, however, say that Christmas is imminent or "at hand."  The error of the Thessalonians, therefore, was not in thinking that the parousia of Christ was already a present reality, but in thinking that it was an impending event. 

To think that the Thessalonians thought that Christ had already come and that the rapture had already occurred leads us to believe that the Thessloanians believed that the tribulation and persecution of Christians followed the coming of Christ, and that they did not believe that the kingdom of God would be the immediate result of his coming. 

Paul's Explanatory Purpose

Paul clearly wants either to assure the Thessalonians that 1) Christ has not already come, or 2) that the coming of Christ was not imminent, would not immediately occur.  Of course, Paul's affirmation that the coming of Christ was still future, though not imminent, would also overthrow any idea that it had already occurred. 

Paul says "that day shall not come except there come a falling away first and that man of lawlessness be revealed."  In saying this he dismisses the misconception that the tribulation and persecution that the Thessalonians were then experiencing was that tribulation that must precede the return of the Lord.  Doubtless the Thessalonians were familiar with the teaching of Christ concerning the relation of coming tribulation to the return of Christ.  Jesus taught:

"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."  (Matt. 24: 29-30) 

Here Jesus says that it will be "immediately after the tribulation" that people will "see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven."  Sadly, however, the pre-tribbers say that it is "immediately before the tribulation" that Christ comes rather than "immediately after." 

When Paul says that "that day shall not come" he also includes the idea that "Christ shall not come" and "our gathering together unto him shall not come."  The return of Christ and the rapture will not come "except there come a falling away first" and until "the man of lawlessness be revealed."  I can think of no other clearer denial of the pre-trib doctrine than is contained in these words of the Apostle. 

In these words Paul clearly affirms that some things must occur before the coming of Christ and before the rapture, a thing denied by those of the pre-trib school.  Paul is also, by these words, assuring the Thessalonians that their present tribulation is not the tribulation foretold by Christ as occurring immediately before his return.  The tribulation of which Christ foretold involved events that were not present in the tribulation being experienced by the Thessalonians.  There was as yet no "falling away" and as yet no revelation of antichrist.  Christ had foretold his disciples that they would first "see the abomination of desolation stand in the holy place" before his return.  (Matt. 24: 15).  It is this event that Paul has in mind when he says, of the man of lawlessness, that "he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."  Paul thus denies that the tribulation that the Thessalonians were experiencing was that tribulation foretold by Christ because there was as yet no falling away nor any appearance of antichrist. 

The Day of Christ

Though we agree with Seiss (see former posting) that "the day of the Lord" does not always focus on one event, nor cover one moment or a twenty four hour day, yet in the context of Paul's words in II Thessalonians chapter two, Paul does focus on a single event.  By "the day of Christ" and "that day" Paul is focusing upon the visible bodily coming of Christ, the thing he had previously written to the Thessalonians about in his first epistle (I Thess. 4: 13-17).  Though the entire time of the opening of the seven seals may be called "the day of the Lord" and "the day of judgment," it is not the case with the specific event of Christ descending bodily from heaven.  Paul had said that the Lord "shall descend from heaven," and the angels in Acts one said Christ would descend from the clouds just as literally and visibly as he ascended into the clouds.  This visible bodily descent does not take years to accomplish.  In fact, this visible bodily descent from heaven does not occur till Revelation chapter nineteen when Christ comes riding upon the white horse. 

When Paul mentions "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering unto him" he is clearly focusing upon the visible bodily descent of the Lord and upon the righteous living and dead meeting Christ in the lower air.  That is the particular "day" Paul has in mind.  "That day," says Paul, will not occur until some things occur "first."  By "that day" Paul refers to the personal descent of Christ and the rapture. 

A Singular Coming

Paul plainly says that the antichrist, or man of sin, will be destroyed by the epiphany of the Lord's coming, or by the appearing of his presence. (vs. 8).  Thus, the question - who comes first, Christ or the man of sin? - is easily answered.  Antichrist comes first.  How could Christ destroy antichrist at his coming if he were not already here?  The only thing the pre-tribber can do is to try to read the passage and put into the text more than one coming again of Jesus.  But, this is not possible.

Paul mentions the "coming" of the Lord in two verses in this section of chapter two.  In verse one he announces that the "coming" of the Lord and that gathering of the saints to him is the subject of his following remarks.   Then again he mentions the "coming" of the Lord in verse eight, saying "whom the Lord shall destroy with the epiphany of his coming."  If the "coming" of verse eight is the same coming of verse one, then the pre-trib, pre falling away, pre antichrist, coming of Christ is denied.  That the coming of verse eight is the same coming of verse one is obvious.  And, this being the case, Paul plainly affirms that Christ's coming, and the rapture that occurs at the time of his coming, must follow the apostasy and the revelation of antichrist. 

The coming of verse eight, which follows the appearance of antichrist, cannot be anything other than his bodily descent and presence in the air and on the earth.  This is clear not only from the fact that it is the same coming as mentioned in verse one, but because Paul adds the word "epiphany" (appearing or brightness) in verse eight.  "The appearing (epiphany) of his coming (parousia)" cannot refer to a mere coming in judgment, but to his bodily descent from heaven as described in I Thessalonians 4. 

Thus, in conclusion, we observe how Paul, like Christ, taught that the coming of Christ and the rapture of believers would not occur till after the tribulation and until after there had occurred "first" a general and great falling away and the appearance of antichrist.  We may also say that Paul could just as easily referred to other prophesied events, other than the falling away and appearance of antichrist, to show that the coming of Christ and the rapture were not then imminent in his day.  He could have said - "that day shall not come until the Gospel has been preached in all the world."  He could have said - "that day shall not come till Elijah first appear."  Etc.  Paul did not teach, as do the pre-tribbers, that there are no events that must occur before the coming of Christ and before the rapture of the church. 

Dec 19, 2012

Post Tribulation Rapture III

Secret and Silent Rapture?

In I Thessalonians 4: 13-17, introduced in our last posting, the rapture is supposed to be that secret and silent event that pre-tribbers describe.  Yet, the fact that a trumpet sounds, and the voice of the archangel roars, Christ gives a shout, and lightning shines from the east to the west, and other such events, shows that the rapture is no such thing as pre-tribbers describe.  Further, the Apostle John says:

"Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen."  (Rev. 1: 7) 

It is hardly a secret event that the world will not see.

Meeting Christ

The word “meet” in this verse is is from the Greek word apantesis and literally means to greet or to welcome. According to the pre-trib view, the saints who meet Christ in the air return back to Heaven with Christ where they remain throughout the seven year tribulation described in Revelation chapters six through nineteen.  But, the meaning of apantesis will not allow that interpretation.  The word rather carries the idea of meeting one with the purpose of accompanying the one coming on the final leg of the jouney.  The Greek word is used in two other passages which we will now consider.

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom...And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.”  (Matt. 25: 1, 6)

In Jewish marriage ritual the groom is here viewed as journeying to the home of the bride.  The bride, with her escort, are exhorted to go out to greet the groom when they see him nearing the home.  They meet him, not to go back to where he came from, but in order to escort him the rest of the way to the home of the bride.

“And so we went toward Rome. And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns...And when we came to Rome...”  (Acts 28: 14-16)

Again, we notice how Paul is journeying "to Rome."  On the way to Rome "the brethren" meet Paul at the "Appii forum," at the "three taverns."  Do they then leave with him and go back to where he started or do they meet him for the purpose of accompanying him the rest of the way to Rome? 

Likewise, when the saints "meet" Christ in the air, it will not be for the purpose of going back to Heaven with him, but in order to accompany him the rest of the way to the earth.  Christ is coming to the earth, not to the air.  But, just before he reaches the earth, the saints will be caught up to meet the Lord and descend with him the rest of the way to the earth.  This is what we see happening in Revelation chapter nineteen where we see Christ descending from heaven on a white horse and the saints with him on their own horses, prepared to execute judgment.  (See Psa. 149: 9)

In The Air

According to Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest there are two different Greek words for "air."  He says:

"The Greeks had two words which meant “air,” aer and aither. Aer was used to designate the lower air, the thick air or haze that surrounds the earth. Aither was the name given the pure, upper air as opposed to the thick lower air. The pure upper air started at the mountain tops for the Greeks of the ancient world, since they had no way of exploring the regions above these. The word aer referring to the lower atmosphere, namely, that below the mountain tops, is used in the NT. Aither is not used, although it must have been in common use in the first century."  (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)

In I Thessalonians 4: 13-17 the Greek word is "aer" which denotes the atmosphere below the tops of the mountains.  This hardly seems to be consistent with the pre-trib paradigm.  It is not an event that is therefore not visible to men on earth. 

Coming for and with Saints

Those who teach a pre-trib rapture of the church (body of believers) split up the second coming of Christ into two separate comings, or as some of them say, "one coming in two stages."  They insist that the second coming (or its first stage) is where Christ comes solely "for" his saints while the third coming of Christ (or the second coming's second stage) is solely "with" his saints.  They argue that he cannot come with them until he has first come for them. 

However, looking at the chief rapture passage (I Thess. 4: 13-17), we see how the same instant in which Christ comes for believers finds him also coming with them.  Paul says of those believers who now "sleep in Jesus" "will God bring with him."  Christ returns "with" all the saints who have died and yet he comes "for" their bodies and "for" those saints who are still living. 

It was indeed prophesied in Zechariah 14: 5 - "the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee."  Some will argue that this prophesy speaks of coming with "all" the saints, and not with only those who have died.  And, they argue, he could not come with them unless he has first come for them.  But, to this it is replied:

1)  Granting the truth of the argument, it still does not prove that there is any significant gap in time between Christ's coming for the saints and his coming with them.  Christ comes for the saints, they meet him in the air, and then immediately come with him all the way to the earth.  Same coming!

2)  The prophecy may not be referring to redeemed human beings at all.  The word for "saints" may be simply translated as "sanctified ones" and may just as easily be a reference to the holy angels, and we know that the Scriptures say that Christ will come "and all the holy angels with him."  (Matt. 25: 31)

Thus, it is an argument of no proof for the pre-trib paradigm to say that Christ's coming for his saints must be separated from his coming with his saints. 

There is only one second coming of Christ.  Yet, according to the pre-trib view, Christ not only comes a second time, but a third time.  He comes before the seven year period of tribulation and wrath, and he also comes after it.  Some will even argue that the coming before the tribulation is properly his coming (parousia) and his coming after the tribulation is properly his revelation (apocalypse). 

The Parousia is the Apocalypse

There are three Greek words that are used by the new testament writers in speaking of the Lord's return.  They are parousia, apocalypse, and ephiphany.  These three words describe the same thing, though many pre-tribbers attempt to make them to refer to different comings of Christ.  They will say that Christ comes (parousia) at the time of the rapture, but that this coming is not the same as his apocalypse or epiphany.  Yet, if one studies the Scriptures he will see that this is an arbitrary distinction and not one the Scriptures make. 

"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation (apocalypse) of Jesus Christ."  (I Peter 1: 13)

"So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming (apocalypse) of our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Cor. 1: 7)

"And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming."  (II Thess. 2: 8)

The brightness of his coming.  "Brightness" is from the Greek word epiphaneia and literally means his "appearing."  "Coming" is from the Greek word parousia and literally means presence.  A good translation would be "the appearing of his presence." 

Christians are said to receive grace at the apocalypse, which grace must involve their meeting Christ and being transformed when he comes.  Christians are waiting for the apocalypse and not just for the parousia.  Further, Paul places the destruction of antichrist at the parousia, but pre-tribbers say that this does not occur at the parousia, but at the apocalypse or epiphany.  Who can believe that Christ comes without an epiphany or apocalypse?  Only the pre-tribber who is blinded by his bias. 

Further, in II Thessalonians 1: 7-10, Paul speaks of that time "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed (apocalypse) from heaven" and says that this is the same time "when he shall come to be glorified in his saints." (vs. 10).  Thus, again, the coming and the revelation refer to the same thing.