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Paul Contradicts Jesus and Bible on Who Is Raptured

Question August 24, 2010

Also, what is your view on the rapture?  Is that one topic that Paul preached that could be true?  Jesus when resurrected was in flesh and bone.  Would our resurrection be the same?  This would counter Paul's view that the body would be glorified.  Your thoughts on this is appreciated.  Thanks again!
Ed 

Response August 24, 2010  

Hi Ed
First, let's be clear what Jesus teaches about the end-time events: 1. a tribulation and 2. the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds of glory. Jesus says:
(29) 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:

30And 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, KJV.)

The question you ask is whether in that tribulation before the Son of Man appears in heaven are Christians present or will we be raptured away prior to the tribulation. (Pre-trib.) Some believe in post-tribulation that Christians are raptured after the Son of Man appears. This is known as post-trib.

But the truth is that these two views are influenced by Paul. The correct view is that the evil are raptured or taken away when the Son of Man appears, and Christians remain through the tribulation and thus 'inherit' the earth when the evil are removed. This can be categorized as pre-millenialism...we are waiting for Jesus to set up on earth the milennial kingdom. This was the exclusive view of the early church through the early 300s - obviously because Jesus talked this way, as we shall see. Wikipedia summarizes what I contend is the correct eschatology - because Jesus speaks this way:

The doctrine is called premillennialism because it holds that Jesus’ physical return to earth will occur prior to the inauguration of the millennium. Premillennialism is largely based upon a literal interpretation of Revelation 20:1-6 in the New Testament which describes Jesus’s coming to the earth and subsequent reign at the end of an apocalyptic period of tribulation. It views this future age as a time of fulfillment for the prophetic hope of God’s people as given in the Old Testament. ("Premillenialism" Wikipedia.)

This view was early known as chiailism, but in the 19th Century was called premillenarianism. The early church was exclusively chialistic, not knowing (accepting, if you prefer) of any theory of any rapture of Christians, let alone a pre-tribulation rapture. This Wikipedia article continues:

Historically Christian premillennialism has also been referred as "chiliasm"...The theological term "premillennialism" did not come into general use until the mid-19th century....For the larger part, Christian eschatology through the 2nd and 3rd centuries was chiliastic.[9] Many early Christian interpreters applied the earlier Jewish apocalyptic idea of a temporary Messianic kingdom to their interpretation of chapter 20 of John's apocalypse.[10] Justin Martyr,Irenaeus, and Tertullian all made explicit references to the concept of a thousand year earthly kingdom at Christ’s coming.[11]

The most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene age is the prominent chiliasm, or millenarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgement. It was indeed not the doctrine of the church embodied in any creed or form of devotion, but a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius, while Caius, Origen, Dionysius the Great, Eusebius (as afterwards Jerome and Augustin) opposed it.
— Philip SchaffHistory of the Christian Church[12]

Paul's View 

Paul gets the sequence backwards, and misunderstands who is raptured. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, the righteous are taken first in the rapture of the church while the wicked are left behind to endure the tribulation. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Paul says the living will be "caught up together with them in the clouds." This is deduced by most to be pre-trib. Thereby Paul's view leads to a lack of preparedness to endure suffering, counting on the easy escape.

The Bible's View If You Ignore Paul

There are over 50 passages of OT that speak of the evil being taken out of the earth, and that the righteous shall inherit the earth as a result.  In Proverbs 10:30, we read: "The godly will never be disturbed, but the wicked will be removed from the land." In Psalm 37: 9-11 we read: 

For evildoers shall be cut off;
But those who wait on the LORD, 
They shall inherit the earth.
10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, 
But it shall be no more.
11 But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. 
Proverbs 2:21-22 reads:
For the upright will dwell in the land, 
And the blameless will remain in it; 
22 But the wicked will be cut off from the earth, 
And the unfaithful will be uprooted from it. 

Similar Message of Jesus

There are many parallel NT texts from Jesus, speaking of separating the wheat and the chaff, where the chaff/tares are taken away first by the angels, leaving the wheat to inherit the earth. See Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, Matthew 13:24-30, 37-43 (discussed below).

But Jesus repeatedly says true Christians who are "hated for my name sake" will experience suffering during the tribulation, and Jesus exhorts that whoever "endures" to the end of the tribulation "shall be saved." Matthew 24:9-13. The Paul-inspired message that we will not be here is precisely opposite of what Jesus said. It undermines Jesus's view which was to strengthen us to know salvation is at risk if we fail to endure the testing. 

A time of testing is good for us, and thus Jesus does not pray to take us out of the earth, but rather to endure it: "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one." (John 17:15.) Our peace comes from dwelling in Jesus: "in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33.) 

Further, if the rapture were going to prevent experiencing of the tribulation by Christians, then Jesus makes no sense in this passage: 

Mark 13:19-20 "For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. 20"And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days. (Also Matt 24:21)(NKJ)

If in the tribulation the elect were removed from Earth, and we are raptured in heaven, then this passage from Jesus makes no sense. Jesus, instead, is warning us so we are ready and not weak, and we know that salvation is at risk if we weaken.  

Thus, when Jesus says one will be taken and another left, it is the evil who are taken, not the good. In the context, the evil being raptured is what fits Jesus's drawing a parallel to the days of Noah. So this is how that passage reads -- if we interpolate the word wicked where it belongs in Jesus' discussion of Noah's day, we see this points at the wicked being raptured away:

Matt 24:37-40 "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 "For as in the days before the flood, they [the wicked] were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark (Noah and family entered the ark 7 days before the flood), 39 "and [they – the wicked] did not know until the flood came and took them [the wicked] all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40"Then two men will be in the field: one [wickedwill be taken and the other left. 41 "Two women will be grinding at the mill: one [wicked] will be taken and the other left. 42 "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming." (NKJ) 
Incidentally, the Hebrew Matthew -- the original Matthew -- as best recovered in the Shem Tob version -- has it clearly that the "stumbling-block" or "sinner" is the one taken in Matthew 24:37-40. See our webpage discussion.
  
That evildoers are raptured / taken away when Christ comes is also implied in Matthew 13 in the Parable of the Dragnet: 
Matt 13:47-50 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea ("multitudes of people" Rev 17:15) and gathered some of every kind,48 "which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.49 "So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just,50 "and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth."(NKJ) 

Again in the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, the evil are removed, leaving the righteous to inherit the earth:

Matt 13:37-43 He answered and said to them: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 "The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 "The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 "Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 "The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42"and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43"Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!(NKJ) 

In Revelation, the saints are engaged in battle during a tribulation. "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.) But those given white robes are the ones that endured the tribulation spotlessly. "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.) 

In Revelation it similarly says in 1:7: "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."

In Revelation, likewise there are 144,000 who are Jesus's followers when He sets foot on earth. They did not go up and come down. They were there. Then Jesus takes away evildoers on earth, leaving the 144,000 to inherit the earth. This is the precise picture in the OT of the 'rapture.' 

Thus, this proves Christians are not taken from before the tribulation but God intends them to endure it bravely. What also proves this is the raptured or taken are clearly stated in Revelation to be the evil ones:

20And 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.

21And 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. (Rev. 19:20-21.)

Is Revelation 3:10 Saying The Opposite?

Many pre-tribulation rapture-of-the-church advocates cite in support Rev. 3:10 which states:

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. (KJV)

However,  one of the leading proponents of pretrib, Dr. John Walvoord (former president of Dallas Theological Seminary) states in his book The Rapture Question at pages 70-71 that "it may be debatable to what extent this (verse, Rev. 3:10) constitutes absolute proof for pretribulationism."

The verb for "keep" is also "guard" -- tereo. It appears this verse simply means God will "guard" us from the "temptation" but it does not imply God will remove us from having to patiently endure a time of trial..

The hour of "testing" is from PEIRASMOS. That Greek word comes from a word meaning literally "to examine or prove." The word "trial" is adequate. In James 1:2 and 12 James tell us "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials (peirasmois)."

The word rendered "patience" in Rev. 3:10 is "hpomone" and it matches the same use with "peirasmos" in James 1:2, 12.

James 1:2 and v 12 tell us "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials (peirasmois). Blessed is the man that perseveres (hpomenei) under trial (peirasmon)."

In sync, with similar vocabulary as Rev. 3:10 and James 1:2, 12, First Peter encourages preparation to endure a trial just before Christ returns. There is no assurance that nothing difficult will happen as you supposedly will escape earth due to your faith alone:

'The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer...Beloved, do not be suprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing (peirasmos), as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you my rejoice with exultation' (1 Peter 4:7, 12, 13, emphasis added).

So let's turn again to Rev. 3:10 which in the KJV says "you shall be kept from" from the "hour of trial."

Here tereo can be rendered as either to 'guard' or 'keep.'  In the Greek what the KJV translated as "will keep you from" is TEREO EK. The word TEREO means to "watch over protectively, guard" and with the preposition EK it carries the idea of being guarded or protected and rescued out from the midst of danger. If the idea of keeping one from entering were intended the preposition APO would have been used. So it is truly the idea of deliverance out from within the tribulation experience rather than an external deliverance from ever experiencing the tribulation.

Rev. 3:10 Promises Philadelphia Physical Protection In Danger From Evil

The notion involved is thus not to rescue us from any temptation / trial, but to guard / rescue us from the spiritual and physical dangers which the world endures. Many commentators agree:

Fausett- "so as to deliver thee out of, not to exempt from temptation." (Fausett, Commentary (1871) Vol. 2 column 1 at 561.)

Swete- "to the Philadelphia Church the promise was an assurance of safe keeping in any trial that might supervene." (Henry Barclay Sweet, The Apocalypse of St. John (1906) at 55.)

Trench- "The promise does not imply that the Philadelphia Church should be exempted from the persecutions which should come on all other portions of the Church; that by any special privilege they should be excused from fiery trials through which others should be called to pass. It is a better promise than this; and one which, of course, they share with all who are faithful as they are - to be kept in temptation, not to be exempted from temptation."

Robert Gundry- "to keep or protect in a sphere of danger, and that because ek means emergence out from within, the combination of the two Greek words (TEREO EK) means to protect believers in a sphere of danger (the tribulation period), with a final emergence out from within this sphere." (Robert Gundry, The Church and the Tribulation (1973) at 53-59.)

Thus ant rapture in Revelation 3:10, if truly implied, is by cutting short the tribulation, and removing the evil from the midst of Christians. Then in the process of removing the tares, God will protect the wheat who thereby inherit the earth.

 The Bodily Resurrection
  
As to issue of bodily resurrection, I discuss this at depth in http://www.jesuswordsonly.com/Recommended-Reading/bodies-upon-ascension.html Unlike Paul, our Lord Jesus and the Bible otherwise teaches resurrection of our flesh (reconstituted and cleansed of death/sin) on the Last Day, but a rise of our spirits beforehand upon death. id.
 
At the time of the end, our bodies rise from the dead, and are joined with our spirits that previously were in heaven, so there is a coming of God's holy ones when the Son of Man comes, possibly meaning these spirits. In Jude 14-15 it says Jesus comes back with his holy ones/saints.

Danger of Paul's View of Pre-tribulation Rapture

Jesus and Paul are 180 degrees opposite. What is the consequence of Paul's pre-tribulation rapture notion?

First, Jesus repeatedly said Christians will go through the Great Tribulation. 

In sequential order, Jesus depicts what we as Christians have to look forward to, and that we need to endure to the end including up through a point "after" the tribulation of those days, whereupon we will then see the Son of Man coming on clouds of glory:

  • Matthew 24:6 - "...but that is not yet the end"
  • Matthew 24:8 - "But all these things are merely the beginning..."
  • Matthew 24:14 - "And this gospel ... shall be preached in the whole world..., and then the end shall come"
  • Matthew 24:29 - "But immediately after the tribulation of those days..."
  • Matthew 24:30 - "and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky..."

This order of events clearly indicates  believers will go through the Great Tribulation. In addition, the text indicates that the days of tribulation (persecution of Christians by non-believers) will be shortened by the Lord "for the sake of the elect" (i.e., Christians). Following these events, the wrath of God will be executed against the remaining non-Christians.

The book of Revelation likewise indicates that believers will go through the Great Ttribulation. In chapter 6, Christians killed for Christ ask how long it will be before God avenges their death. The answer is that they have to wait even until more Christians are killed. Not only will Christians be persecuted, but they will be killed because they are Christians (Revelation 6:11). This tribulation will be followed by astronomical signs and the "sealing" of 144,000 who are ready and waiting on EARTH to greet Jesus when He sets foot on earth from heaven. Immediately after these men are "sealed", "a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues" suddenly appear in heaven. These are not from a prior rapture of Christians because Christians are on earth when Christ returns -- the 144,000 remnant. In fact, when one of the elders asks who all these people are, John answers that they are those "who come out of the great tribulation." That is, they were killed in that period, and now are alive again.

What is the consequence of the erroneous view that the rapture will spare you from the Tribulation?

Since much of the Church believes God will deliver them prior to the Great Tribulation as Paul taught, many Christians will be surprised when they find themselves being persecuted and killed for their alleviance to Christ. Their trust in Christ will be severely tested, since they may believe that God has abandoned them and that the prophecies of the rapture are not true. Under such circumstances, most believers will fall away and deny Christ to save their lives. Jesus, in fact, made just such a prophecy:

"And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another.... "But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved. (Matthew 24:10,13)

If you are a follower of Yahshua, be prepared to die for Christ. Even your fellow "brothers" will deliver you to the authorities to avoid their own deaths. If you are not willing to die for the true Christ, you will deny Him when threatened with death. Be aware of what Jesus said about those who seek to save their lives:

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. (Matthew 16:25)

Many Christians are looking forward to the return of Christ, which will, indeed, be a glorious event. However, the time just preceding the end will not be pleasant for Christians. The watchful Christian should be prepared to join his fellow brothers under the altar of souls of those who will die "because of the testimony which they had maintained."

I hope this helped. Share your thoughts.

D.