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End Times, Rapture, Second Coming of Christ

>The Rapture: Did Paul Teach This Doctrine In 1 Thessalonians?

>The RaptureThe idea of an imminent rapture of believers from the earth is a commonly accepted doctrine among many American evangelicals today. Within evangelicalism, it is likely that there are very few doctrines that have been simply taken for granted more than the pre-tribulational Rapture. This short paper will take a brief look at the teachings of the late Dr. John F. Walvoord, President and Professor of Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary from 1952-1986, concerning the doctrine of the Rapture and 1 Thessalonians.

Summary of Walvoord’s Rapture Doctrine from 1 Thessalonians

Dr. Walvoord places particular emphasis on the doctrine of the pre-tribulational Rapture when dealing with 1 Thessalonians. This section will focus on Walvoord’s interpretation of 1 Thess. 4:13-18 since he claims that this passage provides a “detailed account of the Rapture”[1] and considers it to be one of two “crucial revelations”[2] regarding the Rapture with the other being 1 Cor. 15:51-58.

Dr. Walvoord makes a distinction, of course, between the Rapture of the church and the second coming of Christ. Believers are caught up to heaven at the Rapture but at the second coming of Christ, they remain on earth.[3] Walvoord believes that Jesus Christ first introduced the concept of the Rapture in Jn. 14:1-3 but Jesus did not expound upon it at that time. Walvoord states that 1 Thess. is where God provided more detailed revelation concerning the subject.[4] According to Dr. Walvoord, a sequence of events is provided in 1 Thess. 4:16, 17 that reads,

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall 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” (NASB).

Walvoord explains that at this time Christ will descend to the “sphere of earth” in bodily form, will command the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the “translation of the living,” the voice of the archangel Michael will accompany this command, and the “trumpet call of God” will sound.[5] He understands these events to transpire simultaneously.

Walvoord’s Distinctions Between Rapture & 2nd coming of Christ[6]

Rapture
Saints meet Lord in the air
Living saints are translated
Christ transports sainst to heaven
Before the wrath
Imminent event

2nd Coming
Christ returns to Mt. of Olives
No translation; resurrection is later
Christ remains on earth, reigns 1,000 yrs
Follows Great Tribulation
Many preceding signs fulfilled first

Walvoord teaches that 1 Thess. 4:17 contains the essential description of the Rapture when it states that believers who “remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds.” Dr. Walvoord relates this event to what is recorded in Jn. 14:1-3 by explaining that Christ was referring to the Rapture in this passage when He told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house and that He would come again to take them where He was going.[7] Again, Dr. Walvoord maintains a strict separation between the Rapture and the second coming of Christ. He believes that the Rapture takes before “the grand procession described in Revelation 19 of Christ’s return from heaven to earth to set up His earthly kingdom”.[8] Although Dr. Walvoord believes that 1 Thess. 4:13-18 “is most informative concerning the nature of the Rapture” he does point out that the passage “is designed to be an encouragement to those who are living in Christ.”

A Thief In the Night One of the keys to Walvoord’s distinction between the Rapture and the second coming of Christ is his observation that the 1 Thess. passage does not include any mention of “world-shaking events” that are to precede the taking up described in 4:17.[9] Dr. Walvoord points out that the second coming of Christ “will be preceded by divine judgments on the world and followed by the establishing of Christ’s earthly kingdom”.[10] Walvoord also places significant importance on his observation that “the Rapture is never mentioned in any of the passages that relate to the Great Tribulation”.[11] Since “no preceding events are ever revealed” in connection with the Rapture, he believes that “the Rapture in the New Testament is presented as an imminent event”.[12]

Critique of Walvoord’s Rapture View

Critics of Dr. Walvoord’s view of the Rapture (and other interpretations a Rapture) are many. Barbara Rossing, Lutheran minister and author of The Rapture Exposed, claims,
“The majority of New Testament passages on which dispensationalists base the notion of Rapture concern either resurrection or Jesus’ second coming – neither of which is the same as the Rapture, despite dispensationalist’s claims.”[13]

Paul Thigpen, a Protestant-turned-Catholic and author of The Rapture Trap, provides this sharp critique, “This novel, eccentric teaching only appeared late in Church history and has never been embraced by the great majority of believers, Catholic or otherwise. Neither ancient Christians, nor medieval Christians, nor even the founders of the major Protestant movements ever heard of the secret rapture doctrine. They knew of no invisible coming by Christ to catch believers up to heaven prior to His return to earth in clouds of glory. And when they wrote about that single, universally visible, glorious coming of the Lord, they often referred to the very same biblical passages that today’s secret rapture advocates claim must refer instead to an invisible snatching away.”[14]

Many evangelicals are critical of the pre-tribulational Rapture as well. One well-known evangelical pastor and author, John Piper, comments on the Rapture and 1 Thess. 4:17 in this manner: “The word for ‘meeting’ the Lord in the air in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (apantesin) is used in two other places in the New Testament: Matthew 25:6 and Acts 28:15. In both places it refers to a meeting in which people go out to meet a dignitary and then accompany him in to the place from which they came out. One of these, Matthew 25:6, is even a parable of the second coming and so a strong argument that this is the sense of the meeting here in 1 Thess. 4:17-that we rise to meet the Lord in the air and then welcome him to earth as king.”[15]

Commenting on the “puzzling” and “bizarre” account of the Rapture as depicted in the Left Behind series, N.T. Wright states, “The New Testament, building on ancient biblical prophecy, envisages that the creator God will remake heaven and earth entirely, affirming the goodness of the old Creation but overcoming its mortality and corruptibility (e.g., Romans 8:18-27; Revelation 21:1; Isaiah 65:17, 66:22). When that happens, Jesus will appear within the resulting new world (e.g., Colossians 3:4; 1 John 3:2). Paul’s description of Jesus’ reappearance in 1 Thessalonians 4 is a brightly colored version of what he says in two other passages, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 and Philippians 3:20-21: At Jesus’ “coming” or “appearing,” those who are still alive will be “changed” or “transformed” so that their mortal bodies will become incorruptible, deathless. This is all that Paul intends to say in Thessalonians, but here he borrows imagery–from biblical and political sources–to enhance his message. Little did he know how his rich metaphors would be misunderstood two millennia later.”

Such criticisms do not necessarily establish the strength or weakness of Dr. Walvoord’s view of the Rapture but they do demonstrate that the Dispensational Pre-tribulational view of the Rapture is not as commonly held as some within the circle are apt to think.

One the main criticisms of the Rapture is in regards to the way proponents attempt to distinguish between the Rapture and the second coming of Christ. Dr. Walvoord confirms that Matt. 24 contains a description of the second coming but argues that this is completely separate and distinct from the Rapture.[16] Critics of the Rapture disagree. Professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, Dr. Ben Witherington III, claims that Matt. 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4 describe the same event: the second coming of Christ. The following is his comparison of the two passages:

The 2nd coming of Christ in 1 Thess. & Matt.24[17]
Christ returns – 1 Thess. 4:16; Matt. 24:30
from heaven – 1 Thess. 4:16; Matt. 24:30
accompanied by angels – 1 Thess. 4:16; Matt. 24:31
with a trumpet of God – 1 Thess. 4:16; Matt. 24:31
believers gathered to Christ – 1 Thess. 4:17; Matt. 24:31; 40-41
in clouds – 1 Thess. 4:17; Matt. 24:30
time unknown – 1 Thess. 5:1-2; Matt. 24:36
coming like a thief – 1 Thess. 5:2, 4; Matt. 24:43
unbelievers unaware of coming judgment – 1 Thess. 5:3; Matt. 24:37-39
judgment like a mother’s birth pangs – 1 Thess. 5:3; Matt. 24:8
believers not deceived – 1 Thess. 5:4-5; Matt. 24:43
believers to be watchful – 1 Thess. 5:6; Matt. 24:37-39
warning v. drunkenness – 1 Thess. 5:7; Matt. 24:49

Continuing in his critique of the idea of a distinction between the Rapture and the second coming of Christ, Witherington states, “One of the real weaknesses in the Dispensational approach to texts such as 1 Thessalonians 4-5 is that on the one hand they want parousia to refer to the secret rapture of the church here and in 2 Thessalonians 2:1, while on the other hand they tend to concede that parousia refers to the second coming in this very same argument at 2 Thessalonians 2:8. But Paul everywhere always uses this term consistently when speaking of Jesus to refer to the second coming, an all too visible event.”[18] As it so happens, Dr. Walvoord did indeed consider 2 Thess. 2:8 to be a reference to the second coming of Christ which Witherington singles out as an example of inconsistency in this matter.[19]

Conclusions and Observations

It seems that Walvoord may have believed that his view of a separate coming of Christ to rapture living saints distinct from “the second coming of Christ” is obvious enough in passages such as 1 Thess. 4:17 that it was enough to assert or assume that this is so without providing sufficient exegetical evidence. For example, Walvoord states, “When some of the Thessalonians died, it raised the question of what would happen to them when the living were raptured. They apparently had the idea that the resurrection of the dead in Christ would not occur at the Rapture but would be sometime later. How much they understood about the coming Tribulation and the second coming of Christ is not clear in Thessalonians. When they asked Timothy to clear up this difficulty, he was unable to do so and brought this question, along with other theological questions, to Paul, and Paul answers them in 1 Thessalonians. The experience of the Thessalonian Christians make quite clear that they were expecting Christ to come at any time but did not anticipate going through the Tribulation because no mention is made of it.”[20]

Walvoord seems to write this section as if the Thessalonians presupposed his understanding of the pre-tribulational Rapture. He claims in the above-mentioned quote that the Thessalonians were probably wondering what would happen to those who will be “raptured” and may have wondered if the resurrection of the dead in Christ would occur separately from “the Rapture” as if the Rapture were a commonly held belief of the believers at Thessalonica. He even seems to indicate that questions concerning the Rapture were part of the reason why Paul wrote this letter to the Thessalonians.

It does not appear to me that the Rapture can be found in the text of 1 Thessalonians apart from presupposing the existence of such a doctrine. If it is indeed impossible to discern the reality of the Rapture from this text then it appears that Walvoord, among many others, may have read his understanding of the Rapture into the passage as he attempted to explain the occasion of Paul’s teachings in 1 Thess. 4:13-18. This would be highly problematic for his view since it is this verse that Dr. Walvoord points to for clear teaching on the subject.

My study of the Rapture and the second coming of Christ is certainly not as extensive as that of a longtime Bible teacher such as Dr. Walvoord. However, based upon my study of the matter to date, it is my humble opinion that there is little to no evidence in Scripture for a coming of Christ to rapture believers from the earth that precedes and is distinct from the second coming of Christ. It is my understanding that Paul’s reference to the coming of Christ in 1 Thess. 4 is concerning the second coming of Christ.

[1] John F. Walvoord, The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook (Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1990), 478.
[2] Ibid, 481.
[3] Ibid, 482.
[4] Ibid, 483.
[5] Ibid, 483.
[6] John F. Walvoord, Prophecy in the New Millennium: A Fresh Look at Future Events (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2001), 126-7.
[7] Walvoord, The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook, 484.
[8] Ibid, 484.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Walvoord, Prophecy in the New Millennium: A Fresh Look at Future Events, 124.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Barbara R. Rossing, The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2004), 31.
[14] Paul Thigpen, The Rapture Trap: A Catholic Response to “End Times” Fever (West Chester, PA: Ascension Press, 2001), 130.
[15] John Piper, “Definitions and Observations Concerning the Second Coming of Christ” (1987, accessed September 24, 2006); available here.
[16] John F. Walvoord, The Final Drama: Fourteen Keys to Understanding the Prophetic Scriptures (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1997), 134-5.
[17] Ben Witherington III, The Problem with Evangelical Theology: Testing the Exegetical Foundations of Calvinism, Dispensationalism, and Wesleyanism (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2005), 117.
[18] Ibid, 129.
[19] Walvoord, The Final Drama: Fourteen Keys to Understanding the Prophetic Scriptures, 31.
[20] Walvoord, Prophecy in the New Millennium: A Fresh Look at Future Events, 125.

[Originally posted at Pursuing Truth]

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Discussion

38 thoughts on “>The Rapture: Did Paul Teach This Doctrine In 1 Thessalonians?

  1. >My inaugural address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions! The Secret Rapture soon, by my hand! Stay tuned! Read My Inaugural AddressAt = http://www.angelfire.com/crazy/spaceman

    Posted by Secret Rapture | August 18, 2008, 11:02 am
  2. >Thanks for your research. I agree that the rapture happens when Jesus returns–a change that happens to your heart and mind. Praise God! I will be using some of your research here in my own writing and speaking. Trend Of The End is my latest book, where I wrote about the Prophecy of Jesus for these End-Times.

    Posted by Jason Witt | July 26, 2008, 5:55 pm
  3. >Thanks for your thoughts, Mark. Good luck on your research!

    Posted by Matt | May 5, 2008, 1:09 am
  4. >Hi Friends and Believers,First why don’t we wait and see if the third temple is indeed rebuilt. I think we will know more then about the actual thousand year reign of Christ on this earth.As you know the Church of Christ believes that the actual Kingdon of Christ has already started in 31 AD with the start of the early church. The thousand years would then not be literal but simply mean a long period of time.If we are in the last days then this would be close to the end of the World, and Heaven would then actually come down out of the sky.I think Paul did actually have a doctrine given to him by Christ, and Paul said that for us there was One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism. That baptism would be for the remission of sins…Acts 2:38.For those who would like to know about scriptural salvation according to the Bible, and about the one true church, please read…trulysaved.blogspot.com. This is the truth you have been looking for all of your life.Can you afford to be wrong??? Blessings to all,Brother Paul

    Posted by Brother Paul | May 4, 2008, 9:39 am
  5. >”I typically think of apocalyptic as written to a persecuted people to show them what is going on ‘behind the scenes.'”This is the view that Paul Hanson proposed but has been mostly abandoned as of late. Von Radd, of course, saw apocalyptic as coming out of the wisdom tradition, which was overstated and thus largely rejected. VanderKam, on the other hand, proposes that apocalyptic grows out of mantic wisdom in his monograph “Enoch and the Growth of an Apocalyptic Tradition.” You will also see Hanson’s view reworked by Yarbro-Collins and even Thompson who see a crisis in the background, albeit a ‘perceived’ crisis. If VanderKam is correct, and I think he probably has the best view, then the Enochic tradition really begins the trajectory of apocalyptic, which later becomes its own entity, if you will, through time.

    Posted by Mark Mathews | May 4, 2008, 2:16 am
  6. >Interesting. Do you see apocalyptic functioning like that in other contexts? In other words, are there other apocalyptic texts that have the same function?I typically think of apocalyptic as written to a persecuted people to show them what is going on “behind the scenes.”

    Posted by Matt | May 3, 2008, 3:39 pm
  7. >”So what do you do with the persecution language? “As for the persecution language, I think John uses the apocalyptic idiom to describe how things ‘should’ be not how they are. In other words, he is calling the churches to a life of persecution, not describing their life as it is.Certainly the idea of ‘perceived crisis’ (Yarbro-Collins’ theory) is possible but I like Thompson’s approach better. That is, a perceived crisis exists in the sense that John perceives the state of the church to be in a crisis. Thus, as Thompson aptly states, until the recipients read the message ‘there is no crisis.’ Thus the Apocalypse serves a social function in that it ‘reveals’ the real state of affairs of the church, something they do not yet perceive.

    Posted by Mark Mathews | May 3, 2008, 3:58 am
  8. >Hmmm, lots of perspectives. I suggest everyone does what I do: only get your eschatology from Johnny Cash:And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder:One of the four beasts saying: “Come and see.”And I saw.And behold, a white horse.There’s a man goin’ ’round takin’ names.An’ he decides who to free and who to blame.Everybody won’t be treated all the same.There’ll be a golden ladder reaching down.When the man comes around.The hairs on your arm will stand up.At the terror in each sip and in each sup.Will you partake of that last offered cup,Or disappear into the potter’s ground?When the man comes around. Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers.One hundred million angels singin’.Multitudes are marching to the big kettle drum.Voices callin’, voices cryin’.Some are born an’ some are dyin’.It’s Alpha’s and Omega’s Kingdom come.And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree.The virgins are all trimming their wicks.The whirlwind is in the thorn tree.It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks.Till Armageddon, no Shalam, no Shalom.Then the father hen will call his chickens home.The wise men will bow down before the throne.And at his feet they’ll cast their golden crowns.When the man comes around.Whoever is unjust, let him be unjust still.Whoever is righteous, let him be righteous still.Whoever is filthy, let him be filthy still.Listen to the words long down,When the man comes around. Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers.One hundred million angels singin’.Multitudes are marchin’ to the big kettle drum.Voices callin’, voices cryin’.Some are born an’ some are dyin’.It’s Alpha’s and Omega’s Kingdom come.And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree.The virgins are all trimming their wicks.The whirlwind is in the thorn tree.It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks.In measured hundredweight and penny pound.When the man comes around.And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts,And I looked and behold: a pale horse.And his name, that sat on him, was Death.And Hell followed with him.

    Posted by Jared Nelson | May 2, 2008, 6:57 pm
  9. >Lord, when will You Judge and Avenge our Blood?At the Fifth SEAL (Re.6:9-11), the day prior to the Sixth SEAL (Re.6:12-17), servants of old who WERE SLAIN for the word of God, and for the testimony that they held (prophets – Amos 3:7, Re.6:9, Re.19:10, Re.22:8-9), ask the Lord a question and receive the Lord’s answer (Re.6:11).“Their fellowservants ALSO and their brethren that should be killed AS THEY WERE” (Re.6:11) are saints of the most High who will face the tribulation under the beasts of Revelation chapter 13. (Matt.24:9, Dan.7:21, Dan.7:25, Dan.8:24, Re.12:17, Re.13:7, Re.13:15, Re.16:6, Re.17:6 Dan.12:6-7)At the Fifth Seal, white robes are given to every one of them who are under the altar (Re.6:11).There is a three-day time frame between the Fifth, Sixth, and the Seventh SEALS. The Sixth SEAL (Re.6:12-17) is an event heaven and earth will witness (Matt.24:31).AFTER the Sixth SEAL and BEFORE the opening of the Seventh SEAL, these same saints who are seen under the altar at the Fifth SEAL (Re.6:9) are again seen, this time before the throne of God wearing the white robes that were given at the Fifth SEAL. They are a great multitude, which no man can number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues (Re.7:9).It is interesting to note that John perceives his fellowservant of old as an angel (Re.22:8) until John is told, “: . . .I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets . . .” (Re.22:9). Patricia (ndbpsa ©)http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BibleProphecyAuthor of the self-study aid, The Book of Revelation Explained © 1982

    Posted by Patricia Burns | May 2, 2008, 4:45 pm
  10. >Mark,Thanks for your thoughts! I haven’t studied Revelation in a number of years.I dated Revelation during the reign of Domition and, I agree, the evidence of forced emperor worship at that time is scarce to non-existant. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the PERCEPTION of it was not a reality. Perhaps there were some small-scale, local persecutions that John saw as evidence of more on the horizon. Your study sounds fascinating. Unfortunately, I have not read Friesen’s book (or, if I did, I don’t remember it). I think the tie between emperor worship and the economy would be an interesting avenue to investigate. Perhaps “worshipping the Beast” is a metaphor for “participation in the Beast’s godless economic system.” I never considered that as an option when I studied Revelation and I would be interested in seeing where you go with it.So what do you do with the persecution language? John himself has been exiled “for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” In the first three chapters he suggests suffering by the Asian churches (though some of the language is economic). And throughout the book he talks about martyrdom. Specifically, in chapter 6 the martyrs cry out “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Is this all metaphor for economic disadvantage? Or do you think that refusal to “play by the rules of the empire’s economy” would lead to martyrdom?

    Posted by Matt | May 2, 2008, 3:19 pm
  11. >”Do you see emperor worship as an issue in Revelation? If so, how does the importance of John’s economic warnings compare to his warnings against emperor worship?”While emperor worship was a historical reality, there is no primary evidence that shows it was forced on people, particularly the church, in any programmatic way, at least prior to the late second century. During the reign of Trajan it seems to have ramped up a bit but until the late second to the fifth centuries there was no widespread, forced worship of the emperor.Steven Friesen’s book on the Imperial Cults and the book of Revelation is very well done (as I am sure you are familiar). Leonard Thompson also provides a good analysis of the primary evidence for emperor worship, although I don’t totally agree with his conclusions.Friesen, and the majority of more recent scholars, would say that life for the early church during the time Revelation was written (and I hold to a late date during the reign of Domitian) did not include any widespread persecution and that life was relatively easy. There were periodic episodes, i.e. 49 CE and 64 CE but even these were not widespread. So while I see emperor worship as an issue, I don’t see the issue as persecution and forced worship. Since the imperial cults were so much a part of the dominant discourse of the Roman Empire, I would say that in order to get and maintain wealth, individuals would have to take part in emperor worship, I just see them doing it willingly and not under duress. Thus, John is calling them to come out and take on a life of radical faithfulness even in the face of possible persecution and even death. The problem I envision John as having is one of assimilation. The church at Laodicea is obviously wealthy, something impossible to maintain without assimilation into the culture. He also praises poverty and seems to indicate others have a decided interest in wealth ‘teaching of Balaam.’ Thus, John takes a more sectarian approach, much like that found in some of the DSS material, i.e. Damascus Document, Rule of the Community. John’s view of wealth also seems to be in line with that found in the Enochic tradition.You were fortunate to study with Dr. Bock. I took as many classes as I could from him while at DTS. My goal is to teach but in a much more secular setting. Thus, I needed to pursue a terminal degree from a non-evangelical school. Dr. Bock put me in contact with Loren Stuckenbruck, who is my primary supervisor.It’s great to find someone else who has an interest in these ideas, especially since everyone seems to be a Pauline scholar these days!

    Posted by Mark Mathews | May 2, 2008, 2:14 pm
  12. >Come out of her my People -The HOUR OF JUDGMENT (Re.14:6-7, Re.11:18) occurs directly AFTER the Seventh Trumpet (1 Thess.4:16-17).At the hour of judgment RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH is no longer upon the earth. The heavenly message at the hour of judgment is “fear God” (Re.14:6-7).The time of God’s wrath has come (Re.11:8, Re.15:1). The saints are in heaven (Re.15:2); the plagues are given (Re.15:6). It is time for the Seven Last Plagues to fall (Re.16:1).At the Seventh PLAGUE (Re.16:17) great Babylon comes into REMEMBRANCE before God to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath” (Re.16:19).The heavenly message, “Come out of her, my people . . . .” (Re.18:4) is given to those who “fear God” (Re.14:6-7), those who remain upon the earth AFTER the ascension (1 Thess.4:16-17) and who come to the Seventh, and FINAL, PLAGUE.Just prior to the battle of Armageddon, Babylon’s plagues come in ONE DAY (Re.18:8).Patricia (ndbpsa ©)Author of the self-study aid, The Book of Revelation Explained © 1982

    Posted by Patricia Burns | May 2, 2008, 10:50 am
  13. >No, I didn’t pursue the degree.I was accepted to study under PJ Williams at Aberdeen and Richard Bauckham at St Andrews. I am pretty conservative, and my hope was to teach at a conservative evangelical college/seminary. However, I don’t believe in a pretrib rapture, which (in my understanding) disqualifies me from teaching at both of the schools I attended (Cedarville University and Dallas Seminary). I was very uneasy about the idea of spending $100k on a degree and then not being able to find a job because of my beliefs. I did a brief stint in the PhD program at DTS studying historical Jesus with Hoehner and Bock, but I withdrew after 1 year to pursue ministry in a church.Interesting take on the Apocalypse. I agree with the suffering/martyrdom motif, with “overcoming” being “perseverance under persecution” (with the possibility of martyrdom). I wrote my Masters Thesis on the notion of “overcoming” in the Johannine corpus. I didn’t see it as exclusively martyrdom because of the usage in 1 John (I viewed Revelation as related to the other Johannine literature).In my thesis, I argued that “overcoming” in Revelation referred to resisting emperor worship (the Beast imagery), even to the point of martyrdom. Do you see emperor worship as an issue in Revelation? If so, how does the importance of John’s economic warnings compare to his warnings against emperor worship?

    Posted by Matt | May 2, 2008, 5:28 am
  14. >”I submitted the topic “Reversal of Fortune in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature and The Book of Revelation” to Aberdeen and St Andrews in 2005. If I had gone, we would be studying something VERY similar!”That’s very interesting Matt. Where did you end up doing your topic?Actually, my research takes a little different approach in that I’m not sure John is presenting a reversal of fortunes out of a concern for present circumstances of persecution. I think a reversal of fortunes is there but only if the churches answer the call for radical obedience that would probably lead to death (perhaps you take this approach as well). In other words, he is calling them to a life of persecution rather than depicting real historical circumstances of persecution, something they are not presently experiencing.I am investigating Jewish lit from the Second Temple period to find the formative background for John’s language of wealth. I think what is at work is not that the seven churches are undergoing persecution at all but have, rather, assimilated into their culture (Rev 3:17) and are being admonished to take a more radical position of obedience. Thus, in Rev 18:4, in the midst of John’s denigration of the wealthy, extravagant lifestyle of Rome, the call is, “Come out of her my people lest you participate in her sins and her plagues.” Apparently God’s people are involved in some way economically that John objects to. Moreover, this same kind of concern for interaction between the rich (normally portrayed as wicked) and the poor (usually the righteous) can be seen in other Jewish apocalyptic literature both sectarian and non-sectarian. This literature seems to take a decided interest in the economic relationship in particular. That is, they warn about coming in contact with the wealth of the wicked, which would in turn impart guilt on them, similar to what is depicted in Rev 18.I am guessing you would have studied under Markus Bockmuehl? A friend of mine recently went to St Andrews to study with him, only to find out he left for Cambridge shortly after he moved there! I would have been quite upset. I am interested to know whether you pursued your topic or not.

    Posted by Mark Mathews | May 2, 2008, 4:07 am
  15. >Mark,Great thesis topic!I submitted the topic “Reversal of Fortune in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature and The Book of Revelation” to Aberdeen and St Andrews in 2005. If I had gone, we would be studying something VERY similar!

    Posted by Matt | May 2, 2008, 1:33 am
  16. >How you act in the light of posts I have contributed is your decision.I would be interested in reading your forth coming thesis.

    Posted by Patricia Burns | May 1, 2008, 10:52 pm
  17. >”Should we really be concerned about the actuality of this forthcoming thesis or are you more concerned with how we ought to act now in light of what you’ve told us? ;)”Hmmmmmmmmm, good question! I’ll let you decide.

    Posted by Mark Mathews | May 1, 2008, 10:39 pm
  18. >Who? Me?

    Posted by Patricia Burns | May 1, 2008, 9:35 pm
  19. >Wow, I’m suddenly in the mood to wipe the dust off my old ‘Left Behind’ book on the bookshelf. 😉

    Posted by J.Wizzle | May 1, 2008, 9:33 pm
  20. >John must prophesy AGAIN before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings (Re.10:9-11). Then it can be said that the gospel of the kingdom will have been preached in all the world, and then shall the end come (Matt.24:14).The prophecy that John is to prophesy again will be understood in the end days.I believe that it is John’s prophecy, that he must prophesy again, that the two witnesses will prophesy during the three and a half years (Re.11:3) prior to the tribulation under the beasts/kings of Revelation 13:1 and 13:11. Patricia (ndbpsa ©)Author of the self-study aid, The Book of Revelation Explained © 1982

    Posted by Patricia Burns | May 1, 2008, 9:29 pm
  21. >”However, look forward to a great doctoral thesis (my own 🙂 forthcoming on this very topic in the future.”Should we really be concerned about the actuality of this forthcoming thesis or are you more concerned with how we ought to act now in light of what you’ve told us? 😉

    Posted by Jeff Wright | May 1, 2008, 8:35 pm
  22. >For what it’s worth, I think a perusal through the early Jewish apocalyptic works, with which John is obviously in contact, should be read before attempting a wooden literal interpretation of Revelation. These ideas are anything but unique to the Apocalypse. I’m not sure John is as concerned about the actual ‘end’ as he is what God’s people were practicing at the time. Certainly he paints the typical apocalyptic picture of what God’s people can expect in the future, but more so to encourage the church to be faithful in the present (and not because of persecution) because of their apparent assimilation into the dominant discourse of the Roman Empire. Leonard Thompson’s book ‘Apocalypse and Empire’ gives a fairly good representation of this. However, look forward to a great doctoral thesis (my own 🙂 forthcoming on this very topic in the future. While my topic is not on the rapture, as no serious university would entertain such a topic anymore, it does engage the issue of wealth in the church and the radical, sectarian lifestyle John is calling the churches to follow.The Rapture simply is a non-issue in Revelation, especially any notion of a pre-trib rapture. John’s language is more programmatic moving the church toward a radical obedience to ‘conquer’ just as the Lamb conquered, by His blood. Thus the church is being called to a radical faith that could, and probably would lead to death. Thus if they were to follow John’s lead, the rapture would be a non-issue because they would already be dead. Strange book indeed!

    Posted by Mark Mathews | May 1, 2008, 5:35 pm
  23. >I am the author of the posts I write, and many of these topics are included in my authored work, The Book of Revelation Explained, but I do not see any harm in responding to posts when perhaps you have thoughts/views/comments you would like to make on the subject.

    Posted by Patricia Burns | May 1, 2008, 5:10 am
  24. >Patricia,I’m not a big fan of such wooden interpretations of Revelation. But, to each his/her own.I love how in chapter 19 there is an invitation to “The marriage supper of the lamb,” and then in vv 17-18 the birds are invited to feast on the kings of the earth. How’s that for a wedding supper!

    Posted by Matt | May 1, 2008, 4:29 am
  25. >Patricia,I would reply to your comments but it looks like they are copyrighted so I don’t want to do anything illegal.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | May 1, 2008, 3:21 am
  26. >The Battle of Armageddon – Re.19:11-21 -The entire body of Christ, throughout all ages, are in heaven at the Seventh TRUMPET (1 Thess.4:16-17).The battle of Armageddon is a PLAGUE event. Trumpet events follow Seal events followed by Plague events. Seal events have not yet concluded.At the Sixth PLAGUE the way is PREPARED for the soon coming battle of Armageddon, and the dragon and the beast and the false prophet, and their armies are gathered together (by Spiritual forces) into “a place” for the battle (Re.16:12-16, Jer.51:36, Jer.51:49, Isa.63:2-3 below).After the Seventh, and final, PLAGUE, after the great city Babylon comes into remembrance before God, after the fall of that great city Babylon (Re.16:17-21, Revelation chapter 18), the battle of Armageddon will be fought.The battle will be fought after the marriage of the Lamb has taken place in heaven. The church of God (1 Cor.10:32) throughout all ages (the wife) has made herself ready (Re.19:17) and are the armies of the Lord that accompanies Him to the battle (Re.19:14). The end of the battle of Armageddon will mark the beginning of the Millennium.Directly after the battle of Armageddon (Re.19:11-21) is fought, and after the beast and the false prophet are taken in the battle and cast into the lake of fire (Re.19:20), the Lord will stand upon the mount of Olives (Zech.14:4 below).Saints of the most High (Dan.7:22), the Lamb’s wife, will live AND reign with Him throughout the Millennium, the thousand years (Re.20:4).Re.19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him [was] called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.Re.19:12 His eyes [were] as a flame of fire, and on his head [were] many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.Re.19:13 And he [was] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.Re.19:14 And the armies [which were] in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.Re.19:15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.Re.19:16 And he hath on [his] vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.Re.19:17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;Re.19:18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all [men, both] free and bond, both small and great.Re.19:19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.Re.19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.Re.19:21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which [sword] proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.Patricia (ndbpsa ©) Author of the self-study aid, The Book of Revelation Explained © 1982

    Posted by Patricia Burns | May 1, 2008, 12:02 am
  27. >The Seventh TRUMPET, which many refer to as “the rapture”, occurs after the tribulation.

    Posted by Patricia Burns | April 30, 2008, 11:47 pm
  28. >Jeff,I think the sociological factors are exactly what brings so much attention to this brand of doctrine. Hal Lindsey comes to mind when I remember attending several of his forums and reading his material. He has an uncanny abililty to draw in current events and make them so real and relative to our times. When you compile that sociological information and attach Biblical text to it, it darn near sounds believable. Seriously, if any of us can recall watching the original “Thief in the Night” series when we were younger, if we are honest, there was a small twinkling part of us that hoped that that was not the way it was going to go down, yet believed that it may very well be true. In the same way, Hal Lindsey and others use this same methodology to preach and teach this doctrine. Granted, we are familiar with most of the strengths and weakeness of the prem/amil/post/and preterist views. I myself find myself somewhere between amil and partial preterist I suppose. But then again, maybe we are all just “Pantribulational” (i.e. put it all into a pan) 😉 However, I do think it redemptive to study this doctrine and its various views within orthodoxy. It is a blessing to read you folks views on these issues in hopes to get to know each other better.

    Posted by hylander | April 30, 2008, 2:09 am
  29. >Good answer Matt! I like the wait and see approach myself. Revelation is a fascinating book; one where the “now let’s be literal” approach doesn’t work with women fighting dragons in Chapter 12 and strange beasts in Chapter 13. But the whole book has wonderful prose throughout, I love the phrasiology of “come and see.” That’s my eschatology – when it happens, “come and see.” That and Johnny Cash’s The Man Comes Around.

    Posted by Jared Nelson | April 29, 2008, 10:35 pm
  30. >I don’t know. I am thinking about Revelation 19:11-21. The armies are mentioned in verse 14. Maybe it’s literal combat, or maybe it’s just a metaphor for “God’s moral cleanup of the world.” Maybe we “overcome the world” by faith and/or suffering. Hand to hand combat seems pretty alien to the teaching of Christ in the Gospels, but the language of Revelation 19 is pretty violent. (I could go either way.) I think I’ll wait until I hear the trumpet and see Christ before I make up my mind about what is going on.

    Posted by Matt | April 29, 2008, 10:08 pm
  31. >”…before the climactic eschatological invasion…”Hello Matt!First of all, I’m not trying to be argumentative here (which I guess I really am if I even have to say that 😉 ) but…What do we know of this eschatological invasion, biblically speaking? Christ gathers us, we all come down, and then what? Its an actual fight like hand to hand combat?

    Posted by Jeff Wright | April 29, 2008, 9:56 pm
  32. >I like to think of the Rapture as God gathering a holy army before the last battle with the forces of evil. I see the trumpet imagery as kind of a call to arms. Christ is returning to earth, he blows the trumpet, the dead are raised and the believing are caught up into the air before the climactic eschatological invasion.That would make me post-trib, Rapture=Second Coming.

    Posted by Matt | April 29, 2008, 9:02 pm
  33. >The Seventh Trumpet (1 Thess.4:16-17), which many refer to as “the Rapture”, will occur at the CONCLUSION of the tribulation.Based on the Scriptures referenced below, I believe that the church, saints of the most High (1 Cor.10:32, Dan.7:25) will face the tribulation under the beasts of Revelation chapter 13.The tribulation will occur between the Sixth SEAL (Re.6:12-17) and the Seventh TRUMPET (1 Thess.4:16-17).(Matt.24:9, Dan. 7:21, Dan.7:25, Dan.8:24, Re.12:17, Re.13:7, Re.13:15, Re.16:6, Re.17:6, Dan.12:6-7)Patricia (ndbpsa ©)Author of the self-study aid, The Book of Revelation Explained © 1982

    Posted by Patricia Burns | April 29, 2008, 8:04 pm
  34. >It does raise some red flags that this doctrine was developed so late in the history of the church although that certainly doesn’t disqualify it. It does mean that we should ask questions about why this is. I am also concerned about the sociological factors that would lead one to gravitate toward this view. But aside from either of these concerns, I just can’t find the doctrine in Scripture!

    Posted by Jeff Wright | April 29, 2008, 3:25 am
  35. >A very acurate and humble assessment of the the premil-pretrib theory. Nicely critiqued as well Jeff! Walvord, of course, in my opinion, is still one the of champions of this doctrine and will be for quite some time. I remember having to study his book on Revelation along with Daniel in Eschatology. My beloved grandmother was a fierce proponent of this theory and loved Walvord very much. Her and I had great discussions on this very subject as I recall. I tried to get her to read Eldon-Ladd’s theory, but of course she graciously declined.

    Posted by hylander | April 29, 2008, 12:26 am
  36. >I’m beginning to worry about you!

    Posted by Mark Mathews | April 28, 2008, 11:22 pm
  37. >Did you ever think that there could be Three Comings of Christ? One for the Church, the next for Israel? But then there would need to be a final coming to end sin which dispensationalists say remains in the kingdom, so then a Fourth FULLER coming would be needed so we can’t sin. So you see, if you allow for 4 comings of Christ, it all makes sense.

    Posted by Jared Nelson | April 28, 2008, 5:25 pm
  38. >Nicely and humbly written. I rejected the Rapture theory some time ago, but my mother-in-law still clings to it out of ignorance (she doesn’t know that this theory is held by a select few in recent history and not all of Christendom). This would be a good article to share with her, I think, to show that I’m not an apostate. 🙂

    Posted by mhgood | April 28, 2008, 1:05 pm

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