Rapture? Rubbish! Part 2

For many American fundamentalist Christians, the Rapture forms part of the scenario of events that will happen at the end of the world. Read about Catholic teaching on the Rapture, the meaning and origin of the Rapture doctrine and the problems this teaching presents.

Raptured or Not?
A Catholic Understanding

“What is the Catholic teaching on the Rapture?” It was over 30 years ago that a student in my Scripture class asked me that question. Drawing on all my years of Catholic education (kindergarten through the seminary and doctoral studies), I replied, “The what?” I had never heard of it.

In the intervening years, talk of the Rapture has become much more pervasive in our culture. Through radio and TV preachers, the Moral Majority movement of the 1970s and 1980s, the turn of the millennium in the year 2000, and the phenomenal success of the “Left Behind” series of novels (recently completed at volume 12 and earning a cover story in the May 24, 2004 issue of Newsweek magazine, it is likely that few Catholics today would share my response. They would, however, probably still be a bit puzzled by it, and ask another question as well, “Will we, as Catholics, share in the Rapture?”

In this Update we will address these questions. We will begin by looking at the meaning and origin of the Rapture doctrine. Then we will briefly consider the key biblical passage which is foundational to it. Finally, we will highlight some problem areas it presents.

The Rapture doctrine: what and when?

But what do we mean by “the Rapture”? The word can be used in different ways. Spiritual writers have used it for mystical union with God, or our final sharing in God’s heavenly life. This is not the sense we are using it in here; we are using it in a much more specific way.

For many American fundamentalist Christians, the Rapture forms part of the scenario of events that will happen at the end of the world. While differences exist among various groups, the more common view goes like this: At the end, Jesus will come on the clouds of heaven and the righteous (“the saints”) will be raptured, that is, caught up into the air, to be with Christ. They will be separated from sinners who will remain on the earth to endure a period of great suffering (the Tribulation).

After this, Jesus will rule on earth for 1000 years (the Millennium); finally, then, Jesus comes at the end in judgment (the parousia) and will inaugurate the new heavens and the new earth. The Rapture is significant, then, as the first of the events that mark this “end of the world.” This scenario appears as such nowhere in the New Testament; it is put together through a particular interpretation of various and scattered texts.

While speculation about the end of the world is as old as Christianity, this particular scenario is not. In fact, it is not yet 200 years old!

Origins of the Rapture

The Rapture seems to have been invented by a British religious figure named John Nelson Darby (1800-1882). He was ordained in the Church of Ireland and worked there to convert Catholics away from their folly. He was extremely pessimistic about what he saw as the state of the world and the state of the Church. He eventually left it, joining a dissident group called the Plymouth Brethren of which he soon became a prominent leader.

About 1830, he began teaching that Jesus’ coming at the end of time would be preceded by a “rapture of the saints.” Some members of his own Brethren community objected that this was not biblically founded, but Darby dismissed any criticism. It had, he claimed, been revealed to him by God.

He would eventually distance himself from this group and travel extensively in the 1860s and 1870s in Europe, the United States, and Canada, where his views were very influential. (Especially important is their appearance in the Scofield Reference Bible, which was printed first in 1909. The 1967 edition is still in print and is very popular in many Protestant fundamentalist circles.)

Despite Darby’s denials, scholars have suggested several possible influences on his Rapture views. In 1830, in Port Glasgow, Scotland, a 15-year-old girl, Margaret MacDonald, a follower of a charismatic Scottish preacher, Edward Irving, attended a healing service at which she saw a vision of a two-stage return of Christ. Darby adopted and expanded her vision.

Another suggestion traces the influence to a Jesuit priest, Manuel Lacunza (1731-1801), who was born in Chile but came to Italy in 1767 where he would spend the rest of his life. Posing as a converted Jew (under the pseudonym Juan Josafat Ben Ezra), he wrote, in Spanish, a large apocalyptic work entitled The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty. The book appeared first in 1811, 10 years after his death. In 1827, it was translated into English by none other than Edward Irving, an acquaintance of and possible influence on Darby. Given Darby’s hatred of Catholics, this possible influence adds an ironic touch!

The ‘Rapture text’ in Scripture

Those who propose the Rapture maintain that it is found in Scripture. From its first appearance, as we have seen, others have questioned this. What are we to think?

Written by Paul from Corinth, about 50 or 51 A.D., less than 20 years after the death of Christ, 1 Thessalonians is commonly considered the oldest book of the New Testament. It is clear that these earliest Christians were eagerly expecting Jesus’ return in glory at the end of the world. As time went on and this was delayed, two pastoral problems emerged that Paul addresses in these lines.

The first is the question of when. Paul tells them that they “know very well” that we do not know the time of the end; it will come like a thief in the night. This becomes a truism throughout the New Testament, appearing in the Synoptic Gospels (Mt 24:42,44; Mark 13:21-23, 32-33; Luke 12:39-40; 17:20-24; 21:34-35); Acts of the Apostles (1:6-7); the Letters (our passage and 2 Peter 3:9-10); and even in the Book of Revelation, not once but twice (Rv 3:3; 16:15)! Needless to say, this clear teaching has been consistently ignored by many up to the present day.

The second question seems more urgent. Since Christ’s coming was delayed, some of the community had died. Those who were left became worried: Would the dead lose out in some way at Christ’s return? Would they be at any disadvantage?

In describing Jesus’ return, Paul combines imagery drawn from two sources. From biblical apocalyptic (e.g., Daniel 7:13), he gets the coming on the clouds of heaven with the angelic trumpets. From his Greco-Roman experience, he gets the imagery of an arrival of a king on a state visit (in Greek, parousia); a joyful multitude goes out to meet him on the road and accompany him back to the city.

The dead will rise first and then we, the living, will be “snatched” up to join them in the air. Many pagan epitaphs of the time spoke of the living “being snatched” away by death. Here Paul speaks of our “being snatched” up to join the Lord and to welcome him at his return.

In the ancient world, the “air” was a scary place filled with unseen beings, many of them hostile. Together with Christ, there will be nothing to fear. Paul means this as a message of comfort and consolation for the Thessalonians. Christians do grieve the loss of their loved ones, but they should not do so “as others do who have no hope.”

The passage is about Jesus’ return in glory at the end of the world. The New Testament knows of only one such return. There is no “first” second coming!

Further, the passage says absolutely nothing about being “separated from” sinners; the whole thrust is exactly the opposite. It is about “being together with” the dead. There is no suggestion that once we meet Jesus “in the air” that he then turns around and goes back, taking us with him, to return later.

The conclusion is clear: There is no basis whatsoever in this passage for a doctrine of the Rapture. To see such a doctrine here is a complete distortion of the biblical text. If we were to examine other biblical texts often cited in support of this doctrine (e.g., Mt 24:40-41; Luke 17:34-35; Rv 3:10), the results would be the same.

Church teaching on the Rapture

As Roman Catholics, we might ask, “Has the Church censured anything regarding the Rapture doctrine?” The answer would have to be no and yes.

No, to my knowledge, there has never been an explicit statement relative to the Rapture. But as we have seen, the Rapture forms part of a particular millennial expectation based on a particular use of biblical texts. Yes, the Church has explicitly rejected both this kind of speculation and this way of interpreting the Scriptures.

The Council of Ephesus (431) denounced it as “a deviation and a fable.” It was denounced again in 1516 at the Fifth Lateran Council. In 1824, the work of Manuel Lacunza (noted above) was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books. In 1941 and 1944, responding to questions from the Archbishop of Santiago, Chile, the Congregation of the Holy Office (now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) again rejected this kind of millennial speculation with explicit reference to the work of Lacunza. As recently as April 22, 1998, with the turn of the millennium approaching, Pope John Paul II warned again against this way of thinking.

In interpreting biblical texts, the Church has stressed that it is essential that we take account of their literary genres since truth is expressed differently in different types of writing (Vatican II: Dei Verbum #12; Catechism of the Catholic Church #110).

In its 1993 document, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, the Pontifical Biblical Commission both reaffirmed this (Section I-A) and rejected as inadequate the so-called “fundamentalist” interpretation at play in the Rapture doctrine and scenario (Section I-F).

As John Paul II expressed it on April 22, 1998, “We know that the apocalyptic images of the eschatological discourse about the end of all things should be interpreted in light of their intense symbolism.” It is not language that should be taken literally.

Problems with the Rapture

We might conclude by asking, “What view of the world is encouraged, even legitimized by the Rapture/Left Behind ideology?” It can be fairly described as an extremely pessimistic, “outsider mentality.” It feels “left out” of the world and of society, so it eagerly anticipates leaving all of that behind. In fact, God shares their disgust, and the signs are clear: God is coming soon to put an end to it. The world itself is doomed to destruction, so there is obviously no point in caring for it or protecting it now.

Everyone left behind on the earth at the time of the Rapture will be subject to the sufferings of the Tribulation. The violence envisaged and described (as in the “Left Behind” novels) is almost pornographic in detail.

The spirit of vengeance is much in evidence as those “left behind” are subjected to extreme anguish. The hope that the earth and most of its inhabitants will soon be destroyed is a cause of happiness and rejoicing among those who are eager to be separated from sinners and “raptured” out of the world because then they will be with the Lord.

To this we might juxtapose another, very different, world view. The world of God’s creation is basically good (Gn 1). Though it is marred and broken by sin and death, it is still created in, through and for Jesus Christ (Col 1:15-20). The world shares in the redemption of God and even now is groaning, awaiting the fullness of redemption (Rom 8:19-23) which will be manifested as a (re)new(ed) heavens and (re)new(ed) earth (Rv 21:1-5).

God sent the Son into this world out of love to show us the way to life. Jesus did not separate himself from sinners but, on the contrary, they seem to have been his preferred company. If we want to be with the Lord, we should be together with sinners.

In all the Gospels, he is criticized by the self-righteous, “He eats with publicans and sinners” (e.g., Luke 5:29-32), but, as he assures us, there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 just (Luke 15:7,10). The day of the Lord’s second coming is delayed, in fact, precisely because “ [the Lord] is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9-10). Jesus’ harshest words are reserved for those who think they are secure and look down on others (e.g., the Pharisee and the publican, Luke 18:9-14).

Even though we may long for the day of the Lord’s return in glory, the time of that return is unknown. Not even Jesus knows; only the Father knows (Mark 13:32). We are warned against false prophets who say that the end is near (Mt 24:23-26), but Jesus assures us, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20).

Until that time, we are to be about the Lord’s work, “Blessed are those servants whom the master will find at work when he arrives” (Mt 24:46). If we look too eagerly for Jesus’ return on the clouds of heaven, we may pass him by too often on the street (Mt 25:31-46). It would seem that what gets left behind most in the “Left Behind” mentality is the whole Bible.

What’s a Catholic to believe?

We began with several questions: What is the Catholic teaching on the Rapture? There is none; there is no traditional Christian teaching on the Rapture. It is a late, and rather suspect, arrival on the scene.

Will Catholics be raptured? No, of course not, but then neither will be anyone else. But we are left behind with one final—and most important—question. It is not about the future, the question, Will I be taken up by the Rapture? Rather, it’s more about a present question: Will I be taken in by it?

Michael D. Guinan, O.F.M., Ph.D., is a professor of Old Testament, Semitic languages and biblical spirituality at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, California.


41 thoughts on “Rapture? Rubbish! Part 2

  1. [Thanks, Dr. Guinan. Here’s a little “rapture” article I found on the web that may be of interest to readers.]

    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) don’t have even 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.” Also Google “Thomas Ice (Hired Gun)” – featured by media luminary Joe Ortiz on his Jan. 30, 2013 “End Times Passover” blog.
    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?
    (Postscript: For another jolt or two Google “The Background Obama Can’t Cover Up.”)

  2. Yes, we’ve hard all this before on another thread. It’s all Darby’s fault!

    I don’t know if there was a pre-trib, mid-trib post-trib argument until recently, was there? Now everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon.

    So when do you say the catching up of the saints will be?

    Will Christians have to go through the Great Tribulation?

    What did Paul mean when he said believers were not reserved for the wrath to come?

    Is he wrath to come connected to the Great Tribulation?

    Is there a Great Tribulation?

    What is the connection, if any, between the catching up of the saints and the resurrection?

  3. Perhaps you’d like to comment on this passage from Irenaeus, in his ‘Against Heresies’, Book 5 Chapter 29, which clearly mentions the catching up of the Church around or before the coming of the Great Tribulation.

    And therefore, when in the end the Church shall be suddenly caught up from this, it is said, There shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be. Matthew 24:21 For this is the last contest of the righteous, in which, when they overcome they are crowned with incorruption.

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103529.htm

    He is obviously not calling this a heresy, but rather giving it, in a strong passing comment, as his own, quoting it from a previous book, and, therefore, the Catholic Church’s understanding at the time, which is from the 2nd century.

  4. Further, to gain context of what Irenaeus is saying here, in regard to the catching up of the saints, is the following from Book 5 Chapter 5:

    [In order to learn] that bodies did continue in existence for a lengthened period, as long as it was God’s good pleasure that they should flourish, let [these heretics] read the Scriptures, and they will find that our predecessors advanced beyond seven hundred, eight hundred, and nine hundred years of age; and that their bodies kept pace with the protracted length of their days, and participated in life as long as God willed that they should live. But why do I refer to these men? For Enoch, when he pleased God, was translated in the same body in which he did please Him, thus pointing out by anticipation the translation of the just. Elijah, too, was caught up [when he was yet] in the substance of the [natural] form; thus exhibiting in prophecy the assumption of those who are spiritual, and that nothing stood in the way of their body being translated and caught up. For by means of the very same hands through which they were moulded at the beginning, did they receive this translation and assumption. For in Adam the hands of God had become accustomed to set in order, to rule, and to sustain His own workmanship, and to bring it and place it where they pleased. Where, then, was the first man placed? In paradise certainly, as the Scripture declares And God planted a garden [paradisum] eastward in Eden, and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Genesis 2:8 And then afterwards when [man] proved disobedient, he was cast out thence into this world. Wherefore also the elders who were disciples of the apostles tell us that those who were translated were transferred to that place (for paradise has been prepared for righteous men, such as have the Spirit; in which place also Paul the apostle, when he was caught up, heard words which are unspeakable as regards us in our present condition 2 Corinthians 12:4), and that there shall they who have been translated remain until the consummation [of all things], as a prelude to immortality.

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103505.htm

    So to say this concept was not known before the 19th century is erroneous! Just ask Irenaeus!

  5. And, from Chrystostum, this passage, which clearly and concisely says that the saints, the just, will be caught up t mee to the Lord in the air, whilst the unregenerate world will be let behind. Yes, Bones, yes Greg, and Michael Guinian, Chrystostum himself argues with you as if from the grave to this very blog, and condemns your argument to dust.

    Let us then see what he now also says. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in nowise precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the last trump. For then, he says, The powers of the heavens shall be shaken. Matthew 24:29 But wherefore with the trumpet? For we see this on Mount Sinai too, and Angels there also. But what means the voice of the Archangel? As he said in the parable of the Virgins, Arise! The Bridegroom comes. From Matthew 25:6 Either it means this, or that as in the case of a king, so also shall it then be, Angels ministering at the Resurrection. For He says, let the dead rise, and the work is done, the Angels not having power to do this, but His word. As if upon a king’s commanding and saying it, those who were shut up should go forth, and the servants should lead them out, yet they do this not from their own power, but from that Voice. This also Christ says in another place: He shall send forth his Angels with a great trumpet, and they shall gather together his Elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:31 And everywhere you see the Angels running to and fro. The Archangel therefore I think is he, who is set over those who are sent forth, and who shouts thus: Make all men ready, for the Judge is at hand. And what is at the last trumpet? Here he implies that there are many trumpets, and that at the last the Judge descends. And the dead, he says, in Christ shall rise first. Then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

    Ver. 18. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

    If He is about to descend, on what account shall we be caught up? For the sake of honor. For when a king drives into a city, those who are in honor go out to meet him; but the condemned await the judge within. And upon the coming of an affectionate father, his children indeed, and those who are worthy to be his children, are taken out in a chariot, that they may see and kiss him; but those of the domestics who have offended remain within. We are carried upon the chariot of our Father. For He received Him up in the clouds, and we shall be caught up in the clouds. Acts 1:9 Do you see how great is the honor? And as He descends, we go forth to meet Him, and, what is more blessed than all, so we shall be with Him.

    Who shall speak of the mightinesses of the Lord, and make all His praises to be heard? Psalm 106:2, Septuagint How many blessings has He vouchsafed to the human race! Those who are dead are raised first, and thus the meeting takes place together. Abel who died before all shall then meet Him together with those who are alive. So that they in this respect will have no advantage, but he who is corrupted, and has been so many years in the earth, shall meet Him with them, and so all the others. For if they awaited us, that we might be crowned, as elsewhere he says in an Epistle, God having provided some better thing concerning us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect Hebrews 11:40, much more shall we also await them; or rather, they indeed awaited, but we not at all. For the Resurrection takes place in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.

    But as to the saying, that they are gathered together; they arise indeed everywhere, but are gathered together by the Angels. The former therefore is the work of the power of God commanding the earth to give up its deposit, and there is no one who ministers in it, as He then called Lazarus, Lazarus, come forth John 11:43; but the gathering is the work of ministers. But if Angels gather them together, and run to and fro, how are they caught up here? They are caught up after the descent, after that they are gathered together.

    For this is also done without any one being aware. For when they see the earth agitated, the dust mingling, the bodies rising perchance on every side, no one ministering to this, but the shout being sufficient, the whole earth filled (for consider how great a thing it is that all the men from Adam unto His coming shall then stand with wives and children)—when they see so great a tumult upon the earth—then they shall know. As therefore in the Dispensation that was in the Flesh, they had foreseen nothing of it, so also will it then be.

    When these things then are done, then also will be the voice of the Archangel shouting and commanding the Angels, and the trumpets, or rather the sound of the trumpet. What trembling then, what fear will possess those that remain upon the earth. For one woman is caught up and another is left behind, and one man is taken, and another is passed over. Matthew 24:40-41; Luke 17:34-35 What will be the state of their souls, when they see some indeed taken up, but themselves left behind? Will not these things be able to shake their souls more terribly than any hell? Let us represent then in word that this is now present. For if sudden death, or earthquakes in cities, and threatenings thus terrify our souls; when we see the earth breaking up, and crowded with all these, when we hear the trumpets, and the voice of the Archangel louder than any trumpet, when we perceive the heaven shriveled up, and God the King of all himself coming near— what then will be our souls? Let us shudder, I beseech you, and be frightened as if these things were now taking place. Let us not comfort ourselves by the delay. For when it must certainly happen, the delay profits us nothing.

    How great will then be the fear and trembling! Have you ever seen men led away to death? What do you think is the state of their souls, as they are going on the way to the gate? Is it not worse than many deaths? What would they not choose both to do and to suffer, so that they might be delivered from that cloud of darkness? I have heard many say, who have been recalled by the mercy of the king (Emperor), after having been led away, that they did not even see men as men, their souls being so troubled, so horror-struck, and beside themselves. If then the death of the body thus frightens us, when eternal death approaches, what will be our feelings? And why do I speak of those who are led away? A crowd then stands around, the greater part not even knowing them. If any one looked into their souls, no one is so cruel, no one so hard-hearted, no one so firm, as not to have his soul dejected, and relaxed with fear and despair. And if when others are taken off by this death, which differs nothing from sleep, those who are not concerned in it are thus affected; when we ourselves fall into greater evils, what then will be our state? It is not, believe me, it is not possible to represent the suffering by words.

    Nay, you say, but God is full of love to man, and none of these things will happen! Then it is written in vain! No, you say, but only as a threat, that we may become wise! If then we are not wise, but continue evil, will He not, tell me, inflict the punishment? Will He not then recompense the good either with rewards? Yes, you say, for that is becoming to Him, to do good even beyond desert. So that those things indeed are true and will certainly be, while the punishments will not be at all, but are only for the purpose of a threat, and of terror! By what means I shall persuade you, I know not. If I say, that the worm will not die, and the fire will not be quenched Mark 9:44; if I say, that they shall go away into everlasting fire Matthew 25:41-46; if I set before you the rich man already suffering punishment, you will say that it is all a matter of threatening. Whence then shall I persuade you? For this is a Satanic reasoning, indulging you with a favor that will not profit, and causing you to be slothful.

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/230408.htm

    And all this form the Catholic Church itself, and its traditions.

    I could not decide how much of this passage to quote here, because it is quite long and very powerful, so I encourage you to read the whole of this piece because it demolishes most of your arguments far more concisely than I.

  6. There is a very simple answer which requires only one thing – ask the Holy Spirit for yourself – she is your teacher – for when she, the Spirit of Truth comes, she will lead you into ALL TRUTH. (In the ancient scribal language, the Holy Spirit is always in the feminine gender – and how can there not be female priests when in Christ there is neither male nor female?)

    As to His appearing:

    27. “Then when lightening strikes from the East,
    and is seen in the West,
    thus will be the Coming of the Son of Man,

    He will come again as His resplendent Body of B-leavers, afire with the Fire of God.

    Then all the generations of the earth
    shall writhe and will see the Son of Man
    Coming on the clouds of heaven,
    together with great Power and Glory.

    I have had the pleasure and privilege of seeing something of this in visions and dreams – and believe me, some of it is not going to be very pleasurable. Those who are jerked out of here at the commencement of the worst of it are actually being removed from the mix, or balance, for that which prevents must first be removed, and the Church has a form of Godliness which denies the Power thereof – in other words the man of sin whom Jesus will destroy with the brightness of His appearing, cannot be made manifest before that which prevents is removed – and that my dear friends is the Church. It is the Church which is preventing God from moving – hence why most of the Churches in Christchurch NZ were destroyed and will be utterly destroyed before this is over.

    What? God would not do that? Yeah, right. And He won’t whack a whole generation of Israel? And He won’t judge Amerika? Get a grip guys – its all going to go pear shaped for a while.

    Church is not the answer, it is in fact the problem, as it abundantly evident by much of what is posted herein.

    One of the most disturbing and confronting visions I have ever heard of was experienced by the daughter of a close brother – a man of God himself full of grace and mercy and good fruits. His daughter dreamed of a time when she and other believers would be rounded up and ushered into a hall, a community building, and told that if you want to live, you have to renounce Jesus and cross the line of the floor – if you do not, you will die – horribly. She refused and so the soldiers nailed her to the wall, raped and sodomized her, and cut her throat – she said even though it was so real, she felt no pain and as her spirit escaped out of her broken body, she looked back and saw the earth literally split in two and be destroyed.

    She was 19yrs old and “Backslid” at the time – the dream was so real she knew that she must recommit her life to Jesus and be prepared to die for Him – she expects to die for her faith before this is over. I too have had a vision of my own martyring by decapitation, and the rush of PURE EXQUISITE JOY experienced with it was off the charts. The sense of release and rapture and of FREEDOM from all fear and sin. Selah.

    You know guys, you can study all you like, and indulge your apostasy (opinions) all you like, but when push comes to shove, ask the holy Spirit, she has all the answers…and this is why you do not hear her…

  7. In your isolation from the Church, Ian, you shut yourself off from being a credible message bearer and the reality of God’s will for you, because God, if you were a genuine believer, would have set you in the Church when you became His, not cause you to be left out.

    As to visions and dreams, you may hear ‘her’ voice, as you claim, but you certainly don’t hear from Him.

  8. But, back on thread, here is Ambrose also, in the 4th century, talking about saints being caught up, but sinners being ‘left behind’!

    76. We notice here how the operations of the Spirit of life are again resumed; we know after what manner the dead are raised from the opening tombs. And is it in truth a matter of wonder that the sepulchres of the dead are unclosed at the bidding of the Lord, when the whole earth from its utmost limits is shaken by one thunderclap, the sea overflows its bounds, and again checks the course of its waves? And finally, he who has believed that the dead shall rise again in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump (for the trumpet shall sound), 1 Corinthians 15:52 shall be caught up among the first in the clouds to meet Christ in the air; 1 Thessalonians 4:17 he who has not believed shall be left, and subject himself to the sentence by his own unbelief.

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/34032.htm

    Ambrose had a slightly different take on the resurrection, or catching up, but he certainly speaks about it, and is in no doubt that saints go up but sinners are let behind to face the music.

  9. And more ‘left behind’ doctrine from Chrysostum, from ‘Homily 76 on Matthew’:

    4. And why now does He call them by angels, if He comes thus openly? To honor them in this way also. But Paul says, that they shall be caught up in clouds. And He said this also, when He was speaking concerning a resurrection. For 1 Thessalonians 4:16 the Lord Himself, it is said, shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel. So that when risen again, the angels shall gather them together, when gathered together the clouds shall catch them up; and all these things are done in a moment, in an instant. For it is not that He abiding above calls them, but He Himself comes with the sound of a trumpet. And what mean the trumpets and the sound? They are for arousing, for gladness, to set forth the amazing nature of the things then doing, for grief to them that are left.

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/200176.htm

    This doctrine is all over the Catholic tradition.

  10. { but when push comes to shove, ask the holy Spirit, she has all the answers…and this is why you do not hear her… }

    Ian,
    If wisdom is depicted as a woman(in the bible)and there is nothing more desirable that can compare with her, then should we not ask him(the Lord)for that wisdom;knowledge and understanding? That which comes from God and is by faith in Jesus Christ.
    For the Lord gives wisdom; from HIS mouth come knowledge and understanding;(Proverbs 2)

    Luke 11:13
    If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly FATHER give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

  11. “Those who are dead are raised first, and thus the meeting takes place together.”

    Chrysostom isn’t talking about going up in the air.

    Chrysostom also wrote on 1 Thess 4:17

    “For when a king drives into a city, those who are honorable go out to meet him; but the condemned await the judge within. And upon the coming of an affectionate father, his children indeed, and those who are worthy to be his children, are taken out in a chariot, that they may see him and kiss him; but the housekeepers who have offended him remain within. (Homily 8 on 1 Thessalonians)”

    Which is exactly how Wright and modern scholars interpret 1 Thess 4:17

    As James-Michael Smith says, “Paul is not talking about the mass disappearance of Christians from all over the globe. He is talking about the final return of Jesus as conquering King and Judge of the Living and Dead. And he is doing so using the unmistakable vocabulary of Roman Imperial rhetoric, which his Thessalonian readers would’ve immediately recognized.” In other words, the text does not teach a “Rapture” in which the church is removed from the earth, but a triumphant return of a King coming to rule, who is welcomed by those who come out to greet and attend him as he enters his kingdom with acclaim.

    There will be one Second Coming, one return, one glorious “appearing” of the Lord Jesus Christ when he comes to consummate his triumphant finished work. It’s time to leave behind puzzle piece theology and read the Bible more carefully as it is given to us, not as we dissect it and put it back together.
    In doing so, we will leave teachings like the Rapture far behind.

  12. On St Ambrose on 1 Thess 4:17

    The third opinion is that St. Paul’s words should be taken symbolically. St. Ambrose and St. Jerome, for example, suggest that the verse does not speak of a real physical ascent at all, nor does it even refer to the Second Coming. What the Apostle means is that the righteous, even when living in the body, are already with Christ in heaven. St. Methodius of Olympus presents a more acceptable symbolic interpretation. He agrees that the passage refers to the Second Coming, but he contends that “the dead” and “the living” do not mean different types of people. The dead, in his view, are our bodies; “those who are alive” are our souls. These will be reunited at the resurrection and then carried up to meet Christ.

    http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/dogmatics/cozby_rapture1.htm

  13. You didn’t even read their commentary, Bones. You produced someone’s opinion of what they say. I said Ambrose has a slightly different take on it, but he still mentions the catching up and the fate of the sinner, as does Chrysostum, who is clearly speaking o a catching up, as the scripture tells. His analogy of the chariots is to do with people meeting the King, not the manner in which saints are caught up.

    You deny just about everything they teach.

  14. Again, to clarify Chriysostum for you, he says:

    Those who are dead are raised first, and thus the meeting takes place together. Abel who died before all shall then meet Him together with those who are alive. So that they in this respect will have no advantage, but he who is corrupted, and has been so many years in the earth, shall meet Him with them, and so all the others. For if they awaited us, that we might be crowned, as elsewhere he says in an Epistle, God having provided some better thing concerning us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect Hebrews 11:40, much more shall we also await them; or rather, they indeed awaited, but we not at all. For the Resurrection takes place in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.

    Then follows a very long and intricate description o the plight of those who are let behind, which I encourage you to read through on the link, because it is so full and intense I did not have space to give it justice here.

    There is absolutely no doubting what Chrysostum is saying, which is that, whilst the saints are caught up to be with the Lord and meet with him in the air, those who are left behind will suffer the wrath of God.

    Why did you not read the following, which is rather concise:

    What will be the state of their souls, when they see some indeed taken up, but themselves left behind? Will not these things be able to shake their souls more terribly than any hell? Let us represent then in word that this is now present.

    If that is mot precise enough for you, Chrysostum has a personal message for you and Greg and all other doubters:

    Nay, you say, but God is full of love to man, and none of these things will happen! Then it is written in vain! No, you say, but only as a threat, that we may become wise! If then we are not wise, but continue evil, will He not, tell me, inflict the punishment? Will He not then recompense the good either with rewards? Yes, you say, for that is becoming to Him, to do good even beyond desert. So that those things indeed are true and will certainly be, while the punishments will not be at all, but are only for the purpose of a threat, and of terror! By what means I shall persuade you, I know not. If I say, that the worm will not die, and the fire will not be quenched Mark 9:44; if I say, that they shall go away into everlasting fire Matthew 25:41-46; if I set before you the rich man already suffering punishment, you will say that it is all a matter of threatening. Whence then shall I persuade you? For this is a Satanic reasoning, indulging you with a favor that will not profit, and causing you to be slothful.

  15. [None of those ancient writers saw a rapture before either the Antichrist or the Tribulation, no matter how hard Steve tried! Why do pretrib defenders constantly read “when” into “what” passages? BTW, here’s a think piece I found on the informative web.]

    (This article reveals research that’s No. 1 on the “hate list” of millions of “fundy” Christians
    because it shows that their idolized “rapture” belief – the inspiration behind Lindsey’s and LaHaye’s all-time bestsellers – is only a 19th century invention and that credit long given to John Darby should go to a long unknown 15-year-old girl in Scotland!)

    Margaret Macdonald’s Rapture Chart !

    “church” RAPTURE “church”
    (present age) (tribulation)

    In early 1830 Margaret was the very first one to see a pre-Antichrist (pretribulation) rapture in the Bible – and John Walvoord and Hal Lindsey lend support for this claim!
    Walvoord’s “Rapture Question” (1979) says her view resembles the “partial-rapture view” and Lindsey’s “The Rapture” (1983) admits that “she definitely teaches a partial rapture.”
    But there’s more. Lindsey (p. 26) says that partial rapturists see only “spiritual” Christians in the rapture and “unspiritual” ones left behind to endure Antichrist’s trial. And Walvoord (p. 97) calls partial rapturists “pretribulationists”!
    Margaret’s pretrib view was a partial rapture form of it since only those “filled with the Spirit” would be raptured before the revealing of the Antichrist. A few critics, who’ve been repeating more than researching, have noted “Church” in the tribulation section of her account. Since they haven’t known that all partial rapturists see “Church” on earth after their pretrib rapture (see above chart), they’ve wrongly assumed that Margaret was a posttrib!
    In Sep. 1830 Edward Irving’s journal “The Morning Watch” (hereafter: TMW) was the first to publicly reflect her novel view when it saw spiritual “Philadelphia” raptured before “the great tribulation” and unspiritual “Laodicea” left on earth.
    In Dec. 1830 John Darby (the so-called “father of dispensationalism” even though he wasn’t first on any crucial aspect of it!) was still defending the historic posttrib rapture view in the “Christian Herald.”
    Pretrib didn’t spring from a “church/Israel” dichotomy, as many have assumed, but sprang from a “church/church” one, as we’ve seen, and was based only on symbols!
    But innate anti-Jewishness soon appeared. (As noted, TMW in Sep. 1830 saw only less worthy church members left behind.) In Sep. 1832 TMW said that less worthy church members and “Jews” would be left behind. But by Mar. 1833 TMW was sure that only “Jews” would face the Antichrist!
    As late as 1837 the non-dichotomous Darby saw the church “going in with Him to the marriage, to wit, with Jerusalem and the Jews.” And he didn’t clearly teach pretrib until 1839. His basis then was the Rev. 12:5 “man child…caught up” symbol he’d “borrowed” (without giving credit) from Irving who had been the first to use it for the same purpose in 1831!
    For related articles Google “X-Raying Margaret,” “Edward Irving is Unnerving,” “Pretrib Rapture’s Missing Lines,” “The Unoriginal John Darby,” “Deceiving and Being Deceived” by D.M., “Pretrib Rapture Pride,” “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty” and “Scholars Weigh My Research.” The most documented and accurate book on pretrib rapture history is “The Rapture Plot” (see Armageddon Books online) – a 300-pager that has hundreds of disarming facts (like the ones above) not found in any other source.

  16. Dear Steve,
    You have proven yourself worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven,,,You have stuck to your guns.
    Everytime Somebody has come against you, you have defended yourself scripturally and truthfully.
    Thank you JESUS.
    You have been tested, tried ,straight forward and approved.
    No matter what may come, you will live for him.
    May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit “Steve” AMEN!

  17. Thank you Eyes!

    Irv,

    I think you just jumped in without reading any of the thread and missed the whole refutation of your comment which preceded.

    Even the comment before yours makes a mockery of the assumptions you made, which have already been quoted at least twice on this thread and refuted.

    The mere fact that the harpazo features in the New Testament at more than one place, with special reference to 1 Thessalonians 4:17, gives testament to the fact that the concept of a catching up of the saints was being taught at least by Paul, who clearly predates Darby.

    Again, people are being hung up on the word ‘rapture’ which is merely an English understanding of a Latin translation of harpazo, which ‘means catching up’ or ‘snatching away’. The concept is not only present, but confirmed in 1 Corinthians 15, and refers to the resurrection of the saints.

    All of this is well documented on this thread, which please read through.

  18. Those of us raised in mainline denominations have never heard of a rapture. It clearly is a figment in the fertile imaginations of Darby and his ilk which has permeated American Fundamentalist Christianity. No matter what spin Steve tries to put on it.

    It is what it is.

  19. I have put no spin on anything. What I have written here is confirmed by sound exegesis and readily available evidence.

    On the other hand Bones has admitted he has no idea what the resurrection is, Greg has also said he doesn’t have a clue what the resurrection is, neither has at any stage responded to my requests for them to comment on whether there is a connection between the harpazo and the resurrection of the saints, and neither has explained what the harpazo refers to, since it is clearly and concisely mentioned in scripture, with a description of how it will take place, with confirmation in other passages of scripture, which I have produced on this thread. Read it. It’s all there.

    You will notice that both Greg and Bones, especially Bones, avoid altogether any reference to the harpazo, and will only use the term ‘rapture’ which is not a word found in any Bible. This is because ‘rapture’ is an English version of a Latin translation of the word harpazo. All of which I clearly explained on this thread.

    Bones and Greg will not comment on harpazo because they simply do not know how to deal with either the word or the concept or the evidence presented by scripture, in conjunction with 1 Corinthians 15, and because they have no clue about how the resurrection of the saints will take place, or the connection with the harpazo.

    There is no ‘spin’ on my part. Bones however is giddy with attempting to find, often conflicting, cut’n’paste explanations which have no bearing whatsoever on the understanding of 1 Thessalonians 4:17. None. They mere detours on the way to nowhere.

    Darby has nothing to do with it. ‘Left Behind’ falls well short of the truth, and is not relevant to the teaching at 1 Thessalonians 4 on the harpazo.

  20. Actually, Greg put up three posts on this, mainly because I pointed out to him hat the first was Mormon doctrine, which Bones was careful to admit he agreed with.

    So Greg hastily put together two other attempts at demonising the concept by attacking the non-biblical tern ‘rapture’ and changing the Biblical understanding to match the obviously fictional ‘Left Behind’ series.

    So, I said this to say that there may be information given by me on the other two threads which also relates to my successfully conclusive refutation of Bone’s and Greg’s weak hypothesis.

  21. Your successful conclusive refutation is all in your tiny mind.

    You have done no such thing. No bible scholar worth his salt accepts the nonsense of the rapture. None. Not one. It’s a work of fiction from the fertile imagination of Darby who spread his nonsense among the Brethren and has seeped its way into American Pentecostalism joining its rightful place next to the deceptive prosperity doctrine.

    The coup de gras for the poor pre tribbers is this re the retarded milennial rule after the rapture:

    “Before Christianity, millennialism was first a doctrine of Zoroastrianism. It held that there were successive thousand-year periods, each of which will end in a cataclysm of heresy and destruction, until the final destruction of evil and of the spirit of evil by a triumphant king of peace at the end of the final millennial age (supposed by some to be the year 2000). “Then Saoshyant makes the creatures again pure, and the resurrection and future existence occur” (Zand-i Vohuman Yasht 3:62).”

    Milennialism was condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431.

  22. Lifted from wikipedia, the world’s expert on scripture, which demonstrates exactly what I say about you Bones – that you are more interested in research away from the Bible accounts for your ‘evidence’ than from the Bible itself. Why?

    Easy to answer! Because the Bible itself refutes your doubt-filled liberal theories of everything.

    That’s why you source information from buddhists, atheists and hindus rather than discuss scripture.

    What the heck has millennialism to do with an understanding of the resurrection and of the catching up of the saints? It has nothing to do with it.

    Again, Bones, you throw in one of your distractions to move the discussion away from the issue at hand, and to give yourself some breathing space when you are up against the wall and have nowhere to turn.

    So, once more, since you are claiming to know the answers, what is the connection between the resurrection and the harpazo, and how will the harpazo take place?

    What is your understanding of harpazo? What is the connection between 1 Thessalonians 4:12-20 and 1 Corinthians 15?

    If the harpazo doesn’t take place before the Great Tribulation, when will it take place, and how, and who will be involved?

    What did Paul mean when he said, “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”?

    Caught up together withhama sun autios harpagesometha – together with them shall be caught up – hama – at the same time, sun – together with, autiosthem – the saints who sleep – caught up, literally to seize up, or to snatch up.

    And will meet the Lord in the air!

    The Latin for harpazo is rapio from which is derived the English rapture.

  23. Bones,
    No bible scholar worth his salt accepts the nonsense of the rapture.

    That is both a wrong assumption and detour.

    I haven’t argued for a ‘rapture’ and you know it. I explained why some people use it, but I have never used it because it is not in the English versions of the Bible, which uses ‘caught up together with them’.

    You use the word ‘rapture’ because you cannot, will not and won’t ever explain the harpazo because it demolishes everything you are fighting futilely for.

    You do not know what the resurrection is, who will be resurrected, and how.

    You do not have an adequate explanation for 1 Thessalonians 4:17, or 1 Corinthians 15, which speak of he same events.

    You deny Revelation, so you cannot explain the reference to the resurrection of the dead to Gd’s judgement throne.

    In short, you have no answers to any of these questions I have asked in this and the previous comment, and I am of the opinion you will never answer them because you cannot without compromising everything you are claiming.

  24. What did Paul mean when he said, “The dead in Christ will rise first.

    Obviously he was referring to Pentecostals!

  25. I haven’t argued for a ‘rapture’ and you know it.

    Then we’re agreed…the rapture, as Pentecostals talk about it, is rubbish. Otherwise what are you doing in this thread? On this thread we are saying rapture is rubbish…you say you don’t argue for it, and so I say “excellent” we are agreed!

    Job well done.

    Thread closed.

  26. Greg the Ignorer,
    Job well done.

    Hardly.

    Neither you nor Bones has a clue (your word) what the resurrection of the saints is, nor how the harpazo will take place, nor what the connection to the more modern term ‘rapture’ is, even though I have clearly explained it to you rom the actual latin English translation and texts.

    All you have done is argue around the fictional ‘Left Behind’ series and claim that as you proof that the resurrection of the saints will not involve a catching up, when scripture plainly indicates it will.

    Then you go on about the harpazo being, somehow, a modern concept, when I have asked continually what, then, Paul is refering to when he writes it to the Thessalonians, obviously in context with the dead in Christ and the living saints at Hs coming for the Church.

    The best you can come up with, Greg, is:

    a) ‘I don’t have a clue.’

    b) ‘Obviously referring to the Pentecostals.’

    Brilliant, Greg! Brilliant.

    So, from Mormon doctrine through ‘I can’t believe’, to ‘I don’t have a clue’ to ‘blame the Pentecostals’ is the sum total of your expertise.

    That being the case, the only job done is to expose you lack of knowledge o understanding of the subject.

  27. As for Bones, the lazy agnostic’s walking encyclopaedia of drag and drop contrarian response, with no expressible ideas of his own, who resorts, invariably, to any googled article, whether written by pagans, atheists or gay professors of theology from liberal universities, which states the opposite to evangelical thought on Christian virtue, has given no logical answer to any question on what the harpazo refers to, who is involved and what the connection to the resurrection of the saints is, nor a reasonable explanation of the resurrection itself involving the saints of God, how it will occur, and when, nor a satisfactory response to the allegorical meaning of the resurrection of the dead in revelation.

    No, from your standpoint, this is not a job well done. Far from it. You have written much and said little of consequence.

    When you can answer these questions Biblically I’ll consider that you are getting somewhere.

  28. And don’t forget, this discussion goes back to Greg and Bones’ claims that the Revelation has been long fulfilled and no longer has relevance for us, specifically in regard to the resurrection of the dead to judgment, which neither has been able to convincingly demonstrate form scripture, and for which their only attempt at answering is to appeal to spurious historic writings which, in their view, deny the resurrection of the dead to judgment.

    Revelation 20
    10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
    11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.
    12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
    13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
    14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
    15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

    Which clearly and undeniably speaks of future events not yet completed, including the resurrection of the dead to judgment.

    But, you see, neither Greg nor Bones can believe in a judgment for sin which involved eternal torment and separation from God, and, I daresay, we will now see a plethora of cut and paste articles once again, form the pens of the doubters, none of which has the depth of theology nor any kind of reasonable or Biblical explanation as to why, as Bones and Greg erroneously claim, this could possibly be merely allegorical, that is, of a different, hidden meaning to that described, and, of it is allegorical, what it it is referring to, because it is surely very strong language to use to describe such a frightening and powerful event, and could in no way be said, as Greg unthinkingly claims, is an encouragement to persecuted saints to carry on, chaps and chin up, old boys!

    No, It is a warning to the unrepentant of the future judgment so that they have time before they die to get their lives together and repent with sorrow while they still can.

    No, Bones will appeal to his numerous and distracting liberal anti-judgment theologians with more degrees than a thermometer, as if that qualifies anyone for anything more than having spent so much time studying error that they miss the reality of life in the Spirit and Word, and what man’s needs are before God, with their appeals to post-modern, faithless rewriting of history to conform to the fashions of this age and the trends of the intelligentsia, in their leafy glades of protected self-righteousness.

    Meanwhile a world of sinners is hurtling headlong int the chasm of the sinners’ lot, led and fed by the darkness of the devil neither Greg nor Bones accepts as real.

    The evidence against either of these men being truly Bible-believeing Christians is becoming overwhelming.

    Yes, they believe in Jesus, but in the end, will this be enough if they believe in him in name only, and not in deed and truth?

  29. “So what is the harpazo, Greg, and how does it fit in with the resurrection of the saints?”

    Steve…… you are a man of great faith. I think if they haven’t answered now, they probably won’t ever. You’re a better man than me.

    No that post above summarizing Bone’s ….eh…”research” method is well worth copying and pasting.

  30. “numerous and distracting liberal anti-judgment theologians”

    I’ll feed the troll.

    Those liberal theologians would be Evangelicals John Stott, NT Wright and Ben Witherington III. (aka anyone who disagrees with my dogma is a liberal theolgian). This thread answers your harpazo fascination. But that’s right you didn’t like what Wright and Witherington said.

    https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/rapture-rubbish-part-3/#comment-42914

    The rapture is puerile nonsense. It is totally unorthodox.

    The teaching of milennialism has been condemned in church history as well.

    It takes a man to realise they’re wrong and not God’s gift to Biblical studies.

    Suck it.

  31. Bones, once again:
    “So what is the harpazo, and how does it fit in with the resurrection of the saints?”

    And any of the other questions I asked which you have studiously and tellingly avoided.

    You’re right about one thing. It takes a man.

    So, come on, man, tell us about these things.

    Repeat questions for Bones & Greg

    So, once more, since you are claiming to know the answers, what is the connection between the resurrection and the harpazo, and how will the harpazo take place?

    What is your understanding of harpazo?

    What is the connection between 1 Thessalonians 4:12-20 and 1 Corinthians 15?

    If the harpazo doesn’t take place before the Great Tribulation, when will it take place, and how, and who will be involved?

    What did Paul mean when he said, “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”?

    Caught up together with – hama sun autios harpagesometha – ‘together with them shall be caught up’ – hama – ‘at the same time’, sun – ‘together with’, autios ‘them’ – the saints who sleep – caught up, literally to seize up, or to snatch up.

    And will meet the Lord in the air!

    The Latin for harpazo is rapio from which is derived the English rapture.

  32. What is your understanding of harpazo?

    Does this being “caught up” (harpazo) really refer to Christians being whisked away into the clouds in a massive disappearance act, leaving behind a confused world that will then go through 7 years of horrible tribulation until a final Antichrist figure emerges.

    No!

    The picture is that of a group of citizens going out from a city to meet a visiting dignitary and accompany him back. This implies that the Lord returns with his people to the earth. (They certainly do not stay permanently on the clouds playing harps!) This language was probably never intended to be understood absolutely literally; it is describing things that go beyond words. The important thing is that believers, whether the dead or the living, are from then with the Lord for ever.

    What is the connection between 1 Thessalonians 4:12-20 and 1 Corinthians 15?

    In describing the second coming of Jesus, Paul uses another cluster of images borrowed from the triumph of the divine warrior. The trumpet call (1 Cor 15:52; 1 Thess 4:16), for example, is reminiscent of the call to battle, just as the picture of the faithful meeting the Lord in the air (1 Thess 4:17) is drawn from the practice of coming out of the city to welcome a returning warrior who has been successful in battle.

    ie metaphor see also NT Wright

    “The point to notice above all about these tricky verses is that they are not to be taken as a literal description of what Paul thinks will happen. They are simply a different way of saying what he is saying in 1 Corinthians 15:23-27 and 51-54, and in Philippians 3:20-21.

    We had better get those other passages straight in our minds to start with. In 1 Corinthians 15:23-27 Paul speaks of the parousia of the Messiah as the time of the resurrection of the dead, the time when his present though secret rule will become manifest in the conquest of the last enemies, especially death. Then in verses 51-54 he speaks of what will happen to those who, at Jesus’s coming, are not yet dead. They will be changed, transformed. This is clearly the same event as he is speaking of in 1 Thessalonians 4; we have the trumpet in both, and the resurrection of the dead in both; but whereas in 1 Thessalonians he speaks of those presently alive being “snatched up in the air,” in 1 Corinthians he speaks of them being “transformed.” So too in Philippians 3:21, where the context is quite explicitly ranging Jesus over Caesar, Paul speaks of transformation of the present lowly body to be like Jesus’s glorious body, as a result of his all-conquering power.

    So why does Paul speak in this peculiar way in 1 Thessalonians about the Lord descending and the living saints being snatched up in the air? I suggest that he is finding richly metaphorical ways of alluding to three other stories that he is deliberately bringing together. (Paul was good at richly mixed metaphors: in the next chapter, 1 Thessalonians 5, he says that the thief will come in the night, so the woman will go into labor, so you mustn’t get drunk but must stay awake and put on your armor.) (N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope [New York: HarperCollins, 2008], pp.131-132.)”

    If the harpazo doesn’t take place before the Great Tribulation, when will it take place, and how, and who will be involved?

    Clearly these verses refer to the resurrection of the saints at the coming of Christ.

    .What did Paul mean when he said, “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”?

    When Paul speaks of “meeting” the Lord “in the air,” the point is precisely not—as in the popular rapture theology—that the saved believers would then stay up in the air somewhere, away from earth. The point is that, having gone out to meet their returning Lord, they will escort him royally into his domain, that is, back to the place they have come from. Even when we realize that this is highly charged metaphor, not literal description, the meaning is the same as in the parallel in Philippians 3:20. Beings citizens of heaven, as the Philippians would know, doesn’t mean that one is expecting to go back to the mother city but rather means that one is expecting the emperor to come from the mother city to give the colony its full dignity, to rescue it if need be, to subdue local enemies and put everything to rights. (Wright, p. 133)

    Answered before.

    And now I’ve answered again.

  33. @Bones

    “This language was probably never intended to be understood absolutely literally”

    Well that explains it all! Obviously the author of this piece can read the minds of people thousands of years in the past and come to the absolute correct conclusion that the original author never actually meant what he wrote and that he expected the readers to fully understand that he was writing figuratively, even though the evidence of the original writings states the opposite. Thanks for clearing that up. Otherwise we would have kept thinking that what we read is what Paul actually meant. Obviously we must believe the theories of this modern author instead, because he can read Paul’s mind.

    Meanwhile, here on planet Earth………

  34. Bones,
    The picture is that of a group of citizens going out from a city to meet a visiting dignitary and accompany him back. This implies that the Lord returns with his people to the earth.

    So, Bones, you say that the dead people in Christ, that is, those who are already in the grave who received Christ in their lifetime, are going out to meet Jesus outside the city.

    Remember that this is a passage of scripture which is comforting those who are alive that those who have died in Christ will not be left behind or forgotten, but will also go to be with the Lord. That is the very obvious and clear context.

    So how will your interpretation of the scripture work, seeing it is discussing those who are dead ion Christ?

    First, which city would this be, seeing that Jesus is enthroned with the Father?

    Second, how do they do this? Are they bodily transported outside this city to meet with Jesus? How does their atomic structure, the physical part of them which has decayed and gone into the dust, reconstruct itself to go out and meet with the King?

    Third, This that are still alive meet together with those who are dead in Christ. How does this take place? Will those who are alive be gathered together with those who are dead? Will the dead appear in spirit form and the living in material form?

    Fourth, where does Jesus come from? Since he is said in scripture to be enthroned at the right hand of the father, will he descend or will he appear on the earth at the same level as the people? If those who are in the graves are revived will they ascend from the graves and meet with him on the earth? If so, why does the scripture tell us that we will meet the Lord in the air.

    There is no doubt about the translation of this phrase. It obviously means what it says. The dead will rise first, then we who are alive will rise and meet with him in the air.

    You have not actually explained the use of the term harpazo which clearly means ‘catching up, nor the use of ‘together with them in the air’, nor the use of a separate Greek term for ‘rise’.

    It is also significant that the writer of the piece talks about ‘living forever on the clouds’, which is a nonsense distraction, and something no one has suggested. That is a catholic concept of heaven, and has never been a Pentecostal idea. It is an obfuscation.

    Thus far you haven’t answered anything, and I had already read this rubbish and dismissed it accordingly as amateur exegesis at best.

  35. I watched the “Left Behind” movie tonight with the family. I enjoyed it. Pretty well made, although the CGI at the beginning was pretty poor, but a gripping story nonetheless. Looking forward to watching parts two and three this week. I think you’d like it Bones. There’s a lesbian couple in it.

  36. I’ve seen the three movies.

    The last one even has a black US president fighting the leader of the One World government (the Beast) who looks suspiciously like Vladimir Putin.

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