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Monday, October 15, 2018

2 Thess Clarifies 1 Thess (More on the Rapture Doctrine)

Some additional thoughts to our studies on the traditional "Rapture."

After Paul sent his first epistle to the Thessalonians, he quickly sent a second to correct false teachers and those misrepresenting his teaching. So, when the passage in 1 Thessalonians 4 is used to teach the "Rapture," we need to check 2 Thessalonians to see where Paul is pointing those believers.

Now, brothers, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and concerning our gathering together unto Him, we ask you  not to let your mind be quickly shaken or be troubled, neither in spirit nor by word, nor by letter coming as though from us, as if the day of Christ is already here.  Do not let anyone deceive you in any way. For that Day will not come unless a falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself as God. 

When we are looking at the Acts Age epistles, we must see them in light of all that "Moses and the prophets said would happen" (Acts 22:26; 28:23). 1 And 2 Thessalonians point us back to Daniel (and its corresponding Book, The Revelation).

He shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods. -Daniel 11:36
[Antichrist] shall speak words against the Most High,
and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,
and shall think to change the times and the law;
and they shall be given into his hand
for a time, times, and half a time.
-Daniel 7:25
And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it... -Rev 13:5-8a

We also make a connection with the great millennium chapter in Isaiah (plus Romans, another Acts Age epistle, for context):

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.-2 Thess 2:8
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit...
and he shall strike the [oppressor] with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

-Isaiah 11:1,4
And again Isaiah says,The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” -Romans 15:12-13

These all point to the Lord coming to establish his righteous kingdom on earth. 2 Thessalonians 2 refers back 1 Thessalonians 4 ("Now, brothers, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and concerning our gathering together unto Him...). Paul is correcting false ideas which crept in since his first epistle.

The connection of the two epistles is here exampled by an article at heavendwellers.com:

FIRST EPISTLE- "The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints" (1 Thess. 3:13). (A reference to Deut. 33:2, Psa. 68:17 and Zech. 14:5 will show that the "saints" here are the "holy angels" and not the church).
SECOND EPISTLE- "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire" (2 Thess.1:7, 8).
We see this is the Lord coming "in flaming fire." 

And all of this takes us back to the parables of Matthew (where "fire" occurs 12 times) and the judgments therein. We especially point to Matthew 24-25 which specifically addresses the questions:

  1. Tell us, when will these things be?
  2. What will be the sign of Your coming
  3. and of the end of the age?
So, at the Lord's coming, in light of "the gospel of the kingdom" (Matthew) and the establishment of "the promises made unto the fathers [Israel's]" (Romans) and the judgments of fire, we have the destruction of the antichrist and the establishment of the earthly kingdom ("that which Moses and the prophets said would come").

Does that then make me a "post-Tribber?" Well, no. Since the current present age and the church of the Mystery dispensation is distinct in its promises and hope (in the "far above the heavens" not on the earth) and independent of Israel, the events of the Tribulation are not for us. We do not look for the "coming" of 1 Thess 4 (etc.). That is the "parousía" of the Lord. We look for the "epiphaneia" (appearing) of the Lord.

[D]enying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ...
-Titus 2:12-13
The "rapture" passage in 1 Thessalonians 4 is now seen more clearly in light of the witness of scripture. We've covered this passage more fully elsewhere, so let me just note some items in this context.

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
-1 Thess 4:15-18
  • Paul expected this "coming" in his lifetime. 
  • This fits the pattern of the Acts Age. This "coming" (Gk: parousía) was common and specific to the Acts Age.
  • It is connected to the "Archangel" which is connected to Israel in Daniel.
  • The trump of God points us to the Revelation and to 1 Cor 15:52 
  • As with 1 Cor 15:52, we are pointed to resurrection (no bodiless existence)
  • This coming is in the clouds which points us to the promise in Acts 1:9-11 and Matt 25

When we understand that there are different hopes for different companies (churches) during different administrations (dispensations) according to different gospel, we can see things more clearly.

This is why we must "compare things that differ" and "rightly divide the Word of Truth." When we see things in the right context, the confusion starts to disappear.