I Thessalonians 4:16-17
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
I Corinthians 15: 51
“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.”
Furthermore, what do we do with guys like Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins? Is all their research and writing spot on? What has been the history of interpretations of the end time? How do we understand verses like Revelation 1:3?
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
Please leave comments below and feel free to join the poll!!
8 thoughts on “The Rapture……Fact or Crap?”
Parusia Apentesis RAPTURE
English is too imprecise a language to settle dogma that was originally written in the very precise Greek. Additionally, minor texts or texts that may be interpreted in a number of ways MUST in interpreted in the light of the major or more clear texts.
This is an examination of the Greek words parousia (coming) and apantesis (meet) as in 1 Thess 4:15-17 and others.
1 Thess. 4:15-17 tell us that at the coming of the Lord believers will be raptured to meet Him in the air. The following examines the meaning of the words translated as ‘coming’ and ‘meet’.
Parousia (G3952) is translated ‘coming’ in 1 Thess. 4:15 and has the following meaning: Physical presence, arrival – The main use is the physical presence of a person. Where that person is not already present refers to the prospect of the physical arrival of that person, especially the visit of a royal or official personage.
Apantesis (G529) is translated ‘meet’ in 1 Thess. 4:17. It is a technical term that refers specifically to the practice of sending a delegation outside the city walls and gates to receive a dignitary who was coming. This was the practice when a king and his army were returning from war for example. All the people would pour forth from the city gates and welcome them with pomp and ceremony. The people would meet them outside and then usher them back into the city with shouts of joy and acclamation.
Regarding apantesis, W.E. Vines says “It is used in the papyri of a newly arriving magistrate. It seems that the special idea of the word was the official welcome of a newly arrived dignitary”.
I would like to look at every instance this word is used in scripture (which is only 3 places):
1) Matt. 25:1 “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom”. Matt. 25:6 “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him”. Matt. 25:10 “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut”.
We can note three things about this word “meet” (apantesis) a) – The bridegroom is going to the marriage feast. b) – The virgins go out to meet (apantesis) him. c) – They return to the marriage feast, the original destination. The bridegroom certainly does not fetch them from where they are waiting at the feast and whisk them off to some far away location. Rather, while the foolish virgins are away buying more oil, the bridegroom comes, is met (apantesis) by the wise virgins, and then he enters into the marriage feast with the five wise virgins. The foolish virgins return to their original location to find the door already shut.
2) Acts 28:15-16 “And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet (apantesis) us as far as Appii forum, and the three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage. And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him”. Again, we note three things: 1 – Paul is traveling toward the city of Rome. 2 – The brethren meet (apantesis) him. 3 – Paul and the brethren continue on into Rome, the original destination.
3) 1 Thess. 4:16-17 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet (apantesis) the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord”. This does not say anything about the Lord arriving, then reversing direction and heading back to Heaven. Apantesis here will mean he is escorted by us to his destination (Jerusalem), not back from whence he came..Thess. 4:17 says “And so shall we ever be with the Lord”. We can’t follow Christ back to Heaven and “ever be with the Lord” when He isn’t going to be there forever. He’s setting up His kingdom here on earth!
When the dignitary approached a city, the elders of the city would go out to meet (apantesis) him and escort him back into the city. In no case does the one being met reverse direction and return the way he came. On the contrary, it is the people meeting the dignitary who change direction. Once again, we note three things: 1 – The Lord descends from heaven [toward Earth]. 2 – After the dead rise first, we who are alive go to meet him in the air. 3 – We accompany the Lord back to Earth, which he was originally approaching. The word apantesis was commonly used in the Greek culture and that is what it meant.
Now we can approach the minor verses used to support the Rapture. Examples here are Noah’s flood. Those who are taken away are those under destruction, while Noah’s family return to earth. Those working in the field or in bed etc – those who are taken away are destroyed and their bodies will be found with the vultures.
All these verses used to support the Rapture should be correctly used to support the second coming. Jesus would have been more precise about this had he been meaning a Rapture. The Rapture then only goes as far as the clouds – and then back down again.
As far as the Bible is concerned, their appears to be (as you stated so well) an expectation of Jesus’ return, not so much an expectation of us leaving the earth. Only the book of Revelation hints at this idea of a rapture, but it seems that there is more than one way to interpret such passages like Revelation 3:10-11. I think I would have to agree with you that the biblical position appears to not support a rapture as it’s pictured by the Left behind crowd.
/ I’d like to share something I found on the surprising web. Any reaction to it? /
The Real Morgan Edwards
by George Wilson
In 1995, in a 24-page booklet on 18th century pastor Morgan Edwards, evangelist John Bray claimed that Edwards taught a pretrib rapture in his 1788 book titled “Two Academical Exercises….”
Those echoing Bray include Thomas Ice who wrote “Morgan Edwards: Another Pre-Darby Rapturist.” Edwards’ 1788 work can be found on the internet.
In order to claim that Edwards held to pretrib, candidates for the I-can-find-pretrib-earlier-in-church-history-than-you-can medal – including Bray, Ice, LaHaye, Frank Marotta etc. – have intentionally covered up Edwards’ “historicism,” his belief that the tribulation had already been going on for hundreds of years. (How can anyone in the tribulation go back in time and look for a pretrib rapture?)
Here’s proof of Edwards’ historicism and its companion “day-year” theory which can view the 1260 tribulation “days” as “years.”
On p. 14 Edwards described the Ottoman Empire (which was then already 400 years old) as the Rev. 13:11 “beast.” On p. 20 he defined “Antichrist” as the already 1000-year-old “popery” and the “succession of persons” known as “Popes” – his other Rev. 13 “beast.” He necessarily viewed Rev. 13’s 1260-day period as 1260 literal years in order to provide enough time for his two “beasts.”
On p. 19, while discussing “the ministry of the witnesses” of Rev. 11, he allotted “about 204 years” for their “years to perform” – years impossible to fit into a 3.5-year period!
What about Edwards’ rapture? On pp. 21-23 he wrote about “the appearing of the son of man in the clouds, coming to raise the dead saints and change the living, and to catch them up to himself….The signs of Christ’s appearing in the clouds will be extraordinary ‘wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes and famines,’ &. (Matth. xxiv. 6-8.)….The signs of his coming, in the heavens will be ‘the trump of God [I Thess. 4:16], vapor and smoke, which will darken the sun and moon [Matt. 24:29],’…and also cause those meteors called ‘falling stars’….
Right after his combined rapture/advent (!), Edwards said: “And therefore, now, Antichrist…will…counterfeit the preceding wonders in heaven…causing ‘fire to come down from heaven’….And that godhead he will now assume, after killing the two witnesses….Now the great persecution of the Jews will begin…for time, times, and half a time….”
Thomas Ice’s article on Edwards (see first par. above) quoted only the first 27 words in the above quotation, ending with “to himself.” This sort of unethical revisionism is constantly employed by many pretrib defenders.
Not only had most of Edwards’ historicist tribulation occurred before his combined rapture/advent, but his Antichrist kept raging for 3.5 years even after the Matt. 24 signs! No wonder his tutor advised him to correct his thesis!
To read Edwards’ complete work, Google “[PDF] Two Academical Exercises…www.breadoflifebiblestudy.com.”
For more info on Edwards, Google “McPherson Page” (click on a reproduction of “Cover-Ups”). Also Google “Deceiving and Being Deceived” by historian Dave MacPherson.
Thanks for the in-depth comment. I will be looking up some resources you listed!
Pretrib Rapture Pride
by Bruce Rockwell
Pretrib rapture promoters like Thomas Ice give the impression they know more than the early Church Fathers, the Reformers, the greatest Greek New Testament scholars including those who produced the KJV Bible, the founders of their favorite Bible schools, and even their own mentors!
Ice’s mentor, Dallas Sem. president John Walvoord, couldn’t find anyone holding to pretrib before 1830 – and Walvoord called John Darby and his Brethren followers “the early pretribulationists” (RQ, pp. 160-62). Ice belittles Walvoord and claims that several pre-1830 persons, including “Pseudo-Ephraem” and a “Rev. Morgan Edwards,” taught a pretrib rapture. Even though the first one viewed Antichrist’s arrival as the only “imminent” event, Ice (and Grant Jeffrey) audaciously claim he expected an “imminent” pretrib rapture! And Ice (and John Bray) have covered up Edwards’ historicism which made a pretrib rapture impossible! Google historian Dave MacPherson’s “Deceiving and Being Deceived” for documentation on these and similar historical distortions.
The same pretrib defenders, when combing ancient books, deviously read “pretrib” into phrases like “before Armageddon,” “before the final conflagration,” and “escape all these things”!
BTW, the KJV translators’ other writings found in London’s famed British Library (where MacPherson has researched) haven’t a hint of pretrib rapturism. Is it possible that Ice etc. have found pretrib “proof” in the KJV that its translators never found?
Pretrib merchandisers like Ice claim that nothing is better pretrib proof than Rev. 3:10. They also cover up “Famous Rapture Watchers” (on Google) which shows how the greatest Greek NT scholars of all time interpreted it.
Pretrib didn’t flourish in America much before the 1909 Scofield Bible which has pretribby “explanatory notes” in its margins. Not seen in the margins was jailed forger Scofield’s criminal record throughout his life that David Lutzweiler has documented in his recent book “The Praise of Folly” which is available online.
Biola University’s doctrinal statement says Christ’s return is “premillennial” and “before the Tribulation.” Although universities stand for “academic freedom,” Biola has added these narrow, restrictive phrases – non-essentials the founders purposely didn’t include in their original doctrinal statement when Biola was just a small Bible institute! And other Christian schools have also belittled their founders.
Ice, BTW, has a “Ph.D” issued by a tiny Texas school that wasn’t authorized to issue degrees! Ice now says that he’s working on another “Ph.D” via the University of Wales in Britain. For light on the degrees of Ice’s scholarliness, Google “Bogus degree scandal prompts calls to wind up University of Wales,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “be careful in polemics – Peripatetic Learning,” and “Walvoord Melts Ice.”
Other fascinating Google articles include “The Unoriginal John Darby,” “X-raying Margaret,” “Edward Irving in Unnerving,” “Pretrib Rapture Politics,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrets,” “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” and “Roots of Warlike Christian Zionism” – most from the author of “The Rapture Plot,” the most accurate documentation on pretrib rapture history.
Can anyone guess who the last proud pretrib rapture holdout will be?
[Found the preceding on the never boring internet!]
Help me understand if you could, which theory are you trying to defend?
I have studied this issue carefully since taking a fourteen-lecture course on the Book of Revelation six years ago. When I began the course, I knew nothing about the book. The lecturer was of the school called “premillenial dispensationalists,” holdng that believers would be “raptured out” of the world before a seven-year tribulation during which Jews would have their own opportunity to be saved. He did not disclose that his view was not universal. I studied diligently, and tentatively bought the analysis, but when I got to the eleventh lecture, the lecturer said, “Of course, the ‘Last Trumpet’ mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 isn’t really the last trumpet.” My ears instantly perked up because I knew that this passage is the most complete explanation of the Last Judgment that Paul ever wrote. So I started doing some “outside reading.” I discovered that the lecturer was teaching an interpretation that did not exist prior to about 1830, when a small home Bible-study group led by a defrocked pastor named John Darby devised the theory that the tribulation was to be a short period of time in the far-off future that encompassed all the suffering that Jesus and the apostles predicted, and from which believers would be spared. I wondered why the church had managed to make it through nineteen centuries without this interpretation.
The best book on this topic is Prof. Gregory Beale’s great work, “The Book of Revelation,” in the New International Greek Testament Commentary. He dissects virtually every word in the book, examines every view of the last judgment, and expresses his personal opinion (appropriately labeled). From that book I learned the importance of reading Revelation by comparing its verses to the hundreds of Old Testament allusions in it, plus comparing its teachings to Jesus’ teachings based on OT principles. I also learned that the idea of Christians being removed from the world before the tribulations prophesied by Jesus creates conflicts with many scriptural references that teach otherwise, especially those that teach the inevitability of believers suffering for Jesus’ sake.
I do not pretend to know how the end times will actually occur. However, a strong argument can be made from the Biblical texts that the passage in Matthew 24 describing how one will be taken and another left is properly interpreted as the non-believers being snatched away and the believers “left behind.” After all, the world will be remade and the believers will remain there to enjoy being in the presence of the Lord forever, Rev. 21:1-15. The non-believers will be thrown into the “lake of fire.” More scriptural passages are reconciled by this event occurring on the last day of Matthew 24 and 1 Cor. 15 than by this the imaginative drawn-out process depicted by Tim LaHaye and the premillenial dispensationalists. It would seem that the popularity of the premillennial view is based upon wishful thinking of believers in our modern therapeutic society who want their belief system to include a “no suffering” policy for believers. This idea that our faith exempts us from trials and tribulations is completely the opposite of Jesus’ teachings to his own disciples, all of whom suffered for Him, as he had accurately prophesied to them. Likewise, Jesus specifically instructed all of us to expect, as His followers, trials and tribulations, including persecutions.
It should also be noted that orthodox Christian theologians and thinkers have rejected premillennial dispensationalism. R.C. Sproul, Timothy Keller, C.S. Lewis, N.T. Wright, John Stott, Alister Begg, and most persuasively Martyn Lloyd-Jones, all have made powerful Scripture-based arguments against premillennial dispensationalism. Of course, the Reformationalists, including in particular Martin Luther and John Calvin, understood the Last Judgment in a completely different manner than Tim LaHaye. The reason that premillennial dispensationalism caught on in the USA (it is prevalent nowhere else), is that Dwight Moody did a tour of England when the idea was being circulated there, liked it, and imported it into his powerful evangelical ministry; it continues to dominate the thinking of the Moody Bible Institute and the programming of its media outlets. Interestingly, John Darby’s biggest opponent during his years of popularity was Charles Spurgeon.
As Beale demonstrates exhaustively in his book, the numbers in the Book of Revelation, like virtually all of the images presented there, are symbolic. Numbers like “seven” and “one thousand” all had specific symbolic literary meanings understood by John’s readers then. For us to open up the Book of Revelation without being able to read that text as it was understood by First Centiury Jewish Christians is to substitute ignorance for truth.
It is our lot in life to read the Bible without the enlightenment that was carried by all of the symbolism that is lost to us but present to those who first read it. We accept ambiguity in apparent contradictions in the text as we try to reconcile passages with seemingly conflicting ones. Continual prayerful study of the Bible and of its contexts is the best way to gain understanding.
Interestingly, John Darby taught that the clergy should be abolished, since all believers are empowered by the Holy Spirit to read the Bible with full understanding of its message. Obviously, I do not subscribe to the theory that any man can pick up the Bible and with the help of the Holy Spirit completely understand any passage without further aid. If I believed otherwise, I wouldn’t be spending my time and money attending Seminary!
Bobby, glad to have such a wise scholar (and a gentleman) post an intelligent reply. I think I am going to see some more replies before I jump in just yet