5. The Wonder and Warning of Christ's Return (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Audio (30:50)

The Thessalonian church was in turmoil about Christ's return. They expected Jesus to come soon. But since Paul had abruptly left them a year or so before, some of their members have died. Now Timothy reports to Paul a widespread speculation among church members that these newly dead believers would miss out entirely, that Christ's return would be too late for them.

It's fortunate for us that these early Pauline churches had questions and problems. Without them we wouldn't learn so much about Jesus Christ and his wonderful kingdom.

Paul begins this section with a word of comfort and truth to dispel their ignorance and grief.

"Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep,[163] or to grieve[164] like the rest of men, who have no hope."[165] (4:13)

If you've been to a secular funeral lately, you know the sort of flimsy, "he's-in-a-better-place" sentimentality that bobs hopefully on the surface. But below that, there is no firm expectation of anything beyond this life. And so the grief experienced by the family is deep. They suffer not only the pain of losing someone dear. They have no hope! Praise God! We Christians have a powerful hope!

In this section Paul outlines nine important truths about Christ's coming that should comfort us and prepare us for the future.

1. The Spirits of Sleeping Believers Are with Christ Now (4:14-15)

First, Paul declares some basic Christian beliefs:

"14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep." (4:14-15)

We Christians believe:

  1. Jesus died,
  2. Jesus rose again, and
  3. Jesus will return along with the dead in Christ.

If God will "bring[166] with Jesus" the Christian dead, it follows that they are with him now. Hallelujah! Some Christian groups teach "soul sleep," that believers who have died are not in heaven right now. They are in the grave awaiting the resurrection. At that time they will awaken in Christ's presence. So some teach.

However, Paul is pretty clear elsewhere that when he dies, he will instantly be in Christ's presence -- and conscious of it!

"I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far." (Philippians 1:23)

"Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home[167] in the body we are away[168] from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)

"He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him." (1 Thessalonians 5:10)

2. The Lord Himself Will Descend from Heaven (4:16)

The second major teaching of this passage is that Christ will return by descending from heaven.

"The Lord himself will come down[169] from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first." (4:16)

The teaching that Jesus would come in the clouds of heaven begins in Daniel.

"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13-14)

Jesus referred to this prophecy several times, so we know that he understood that he was the prophesied Son of Man in this passage. He told his disciples of the events of the Last Days, then announced:

"At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens." (Mark 13:26-27)

When asked by the high priest at his mock trial if he were the Christ, the Messiah, he answered:

"I am.... And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Mark 14:62)

The high priest was so upset by this bold statement that he tore his garments. After Jesus' ascension, angels explained:

"Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11)

Finally, in Revelation we read:

"Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen." (Revelation 1:7)

Q1. (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Daniel 7:13-14) In what ways does Daniel's prophecy of the Son of Man outline Christ's return? In light of this prophecy, why did Jesus use the title "Son of Man" rather than "Christ" or "Son of God"?
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3. Christ Will Come with Great Glory (4:16)

A third insight regards the glorious manner of Christ's return.

"The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first." (4:16)

When Christ comes, it won't be secretly (as some teach with no Scriptural support) or quietly. When he returns he will come with great glory. Notice these elements:

a. Loud command. This phrase translated "loud command" (NIV), "cry of command" (NRSV), "shout" (KJV) is keleusma, "signal, (cry of) command," from keleuō, "to order, command (military command)."[170] When Christ returns he will come with a Conqueror's command.

b. Voice of the archangel (archangelos), "a member of the higher ranks in the celestial hierarchy, chief angel, archangel."[171] Michael is mentioned as an archangel in Jude 9.

c. Trumpet call.[172] Trumpets were used in battle, like a bugle in the American Civil War, to signal war commands. They were also used to announce rulers and great events. This trumpet call is mentioned elsewhere:

"In that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain in Jerusalem." (Isaiah 27:13)

"And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." (Matthew 24:31)

"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed -- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

4. Christ Will Come with All His Holy Ones (4:14)

Fourth, Christ will come with all the saints who have died previously -- and with an army of angels.

"We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him." (4:14)

We saw this verse under point 1 above, but I want to explain its significance here. Many Old Testament prophecies will be fulfilled at this time. Those who have died in Christ are with him now. But when he comes, they will come with him, like a mighty army of the saints in the company of the Returning King, along with myriad angels.

"Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him." (Zechariah 14:5b)

 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory." (Matthew 25:31)

"Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: 'See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones.'" (Jude 14, quoting 1 Enoch 1:9)

It will be a glorious Day!

On that day, when Christ brings with him those who have died in Christ, their bodies will be resurrected and reunited with their spirits. Look at this verse again alongside 1 Corinthians 15:51-52:

"14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left[173] till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede[174] those who have fallen asleep." (4:14-15)

"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed --  in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

Blind songwriter Fanny Crosby wrote a song, "In the Twinkling of an Eye" (1898) that explains this truth:

"When He comes in the clouds descending,
And they who loved Him here,
From their graves shall awake and praise Him
With joy and not with fear;
When the body and the soul are united,
And clothed no more to die,
What a shouting there will be
When each other's face we see,
Changed in the twinkling of an eye."

Imagine standing in a graveyard watching this great meeting unfold!

Q2. (1 Thessalonians 4:14) How will Christ bring with him those believers who have previously died? According to Matthew 25:31, who will also will accompany Christ when he returns?
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5. Christ Will Gather All His People Together in the Rapture (4:17)

Fifth, not only will the dead in Christ come with him, be raised from the dead, and reunited with their bodies, but all Christians still alive on the earth will be caught up to be with him also.

"After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (4:17)

This event is popularly known as "the rapture." The Greek word translated "caught up" is harpazō, "snatch, seize", that is, "take suddenly and vehemently, or take away." Here, "to grab or seize suddenly so as to remove or gain control, snatch/take away."[175] In Latin the word is raptus ("seized") from which we get our word "rapture."[176]

This, too, will fulfill many Old Testament prophecies. After the exile of the Northern Kingdom to Assyria (729 BC) and the Southern Kingdom to Babylon (604 BC to 587 BC), there was grief that God's people would never be reunited. But the prophets foresaw that, indeed, all Israel would be gathered together on the Day of the Lord.

"He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth." (Isaiah 11:12)

"'Lift up your eyes and look around; all your sons gather and come to you. As surely as I live,' declares the LORD, 'you will wear them all as ornaments; you will put them on, like a bride.'" (Isaiah 49:18)

"Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the arm." (Isaiah 60:4)

This sounds much like the wording of Jesus' prophecy concerning this "gathering."

"And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather[177] his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matthew 24:31 || Mark 13:27)

In 2 Thessalonians, we see this same language regarding the rapture.[178]

"Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered[179] to him...." (2 Thessalonians 2:1)

The resurrection of the dead and the rapture are closely linked by Paul, and seem to occur nearly simultaneously. It is designed to comfort the grieving Thessalonians:

"Therefore encourage each other with these words." (4:18)

6. The Day of the Lord Will Come Suddenly (5:1-3)

Paul's teaching regarding Christ's second coming continues with a sixth point, that there will be no further warning. Christ will come suddenly. We may know the general season of his coming (Matthew 24:32-33), but not the exact time (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32; Acts 1:7).

"1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." (5:1-2)

When he was with the Thessalonian Christians, Paul had taught them that Jesus would come "like a thief in the night," that is, unexpectedly and without notice. He is recalling Jesus' own teaching regarding the abruptness of his coming.

"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (Matthew 24:42-44)

We see the same phrase in 2 Peter and Revelation. This was the clear apostolic tradition. Jesus would come suddenly.

"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief." (2 Peter 3:10a)

"If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you." (Revelation 3:3b)

 "Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed." (Revelation 16:15)

7. Christ's Coming Will Bring Sudden Judgment and Destruction upon the Wicked (5:3)

Now Paul continues to spell out the implications of Christ's sudden return in his seventh point.

"When they say, 'There is peace and security,' then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape!" (5:3)

People will be commenting on how peaceful it is, when Christ will suddenly come with judgment and the wrath of God against wickedness.[180] Christ's coming won't necessarily be immediately preceded by war and turmoil (Matthew 24:6).  Paul compares Christ's coming with the sudden onset of labor pains. At that point it will be too late to get ready. The time is upon us! Jesus had taught the same thing, using the analogies of Noah and Sodom from Genesis.

"Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed all of them." (Luke 17:26-29)

I don't want to refer to all the terrible prophecies of this judgment, especially in the Book of Revelation.  They are frightening. But here is a sample.

"The day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed." (2 Peter 3:10)

The Day of Christ's Coming will be awesome in its swiftness, its glory, and its judgment.

Q3. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3) According to this passage, what warning can we expect to have prior to Christ's return? What does it mean that he will "come like a thief"?
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8. In Light of Christ's Coming We Must Remain Awake and Self-Controlled (5:4-8)

The eighth point in Paul's explanation of Christ's coming moves to the effect that such knowledge should have on us as believers.

"4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all sons of the light and sons of the day.[181] We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet." (5:4-8)

The believers may be frightened now, but Paul consoles them by reminding them that they are not the targets of Christ's judgment, but rather the ones he died to save. He does, however, give them a command:

"So then ... let us be alert and self-controlled." (5:6)

a. Be Sober, Self-Controlled

Paul commands the Thessalonians to be "self-controlled" (NIV), "sober" (NRSV, KJV). Nēphō originally meant "be sober." In the New Testament it is used figuratively: "to be free from every form of mental and spiritual 'drunkenness', from excess, passion, rashness, confusion, etc., be well-balanced, self-controlled."[182] "To be calm and collected in spirit; to be temperate, dispassionate, circumspect."[183] Jesus, too, used the context of his coming to warn his disciples against profligacy in his Parable of the Wise and Faithful Servant:

"But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 24:48-51)

Belief in Christ's soon coming should cause us to watch our behavior.

b. Be Alert

Paul also commands the believers to "be alert" (NIV), "stay awake" (NRSV), "watch" (KJV). The verb is grēgoreō, with the basic meaning of literally "to stay awake, be watchful." Here Paul is using the word figuratively: "to be in constant readiness, be on the alert" (similar to our, 'Keep your eyes open').[184] "Be vigilant."[185]

Jesus used this idea in two parables about the last days -- the Parable of the Ten Virgins and the Parable of the Watchful Servant:

"The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.... Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." (Matthew 25:5, 13)

"Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.... Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back -- whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'" (Mark 13:33, 35-37)

You see this kind of exhortation again and again in the New Testament epistles:

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong." (1 Corinthians 16:13)

"Be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:18b)

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." (Colossians 4:2)

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled...." (1 Peter 1:13)

"The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray." (1 Peter 4:7)

 "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)

 "Wake up! Strengthen what remains." (Revelation 3:2, to the Church at Sardis)

"Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake...." (Revelation 16:15)

My friend, are you awake spiritually, or apathetic and inactive in the Lord's work? Are you exercising self-control? Are you ready for Christ's coming?

Paul tells us how to prepare yourselves:

"... Putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet." (1 Thessalonians 5:8b)

This sounds a lot like Paul's trinity of virtues in 1 Corinthians 13:

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Notice how Paul uses analogies that suggest equipping oneself for battle. It is reminiscent of teachings to other churches about the "full armor of God" (Ephesians 6:11-18), "the armor of light" (Romans 13:12), and "weapons of righteousness" (2 Corinthians 6:7). To be alert and self-controlled requires positive efforts to take hold of God's spiritual resources at all times.

Q4. (1 Thessalonians 5:4-8) What effect should a belief in Christ's soon coming have on believers? What does it mean to be "sober" or "self-controlled" (verse 6)? What does it mean to be "alert" or "watchful" (verse 6)? How does this differ from our normal Christian lifestyle?
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9. Believers Are Destined for Salvation, not Wrath (5:9)

Paul concludes this teaching, intended to comfort the confused believers, with an ninth point. They are not the intended recipients of the wrath of God when Christ comes -- similar to what we read in 1:10.

"... To wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead -- Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." (1 Thessalonians 1:10)

 "For God did not appoint[186] us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him." (5:9-10)

Some teachers try to use 5:9 to "prove" that true Christians won't go through the tribulation. They believe that Christ will come (secretly) -- before the tribulation (pre-trib) -- and take the true Christians up in the rapture. I disagree. Because this has been a popular view among evangelical Christians, I'll make a couple of points. But this isn't the place for a full debate of the pre-trib rapture.[187] If we disagree about this, I'll still love you and you'll love me.

  1. Wrath. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says that God didn't consign us to the wrathful judgment of God, but to salvation. It does not say that Christians won't go through at least part of the Great Tribulation (during a time when some unbelievers are feeling the effects of God's wrath).
  2. Scripture. A number of scriptures indicate that some Christians will go through at least some of the tribulation (Matthew 24:9-14, 21-22, 29-31; 1 Thessalonians 3:2-4; Revelation 7:2-8, 9-14; 13:10; 14:12).

I know that proponents have an answer for each objection. I'm just not convinced by their arguments for a secret rapture prior to the tribulation -- especially since it requires a speculative harmonization of a number of verses interpreted in a certain specific way. The pre-trib rapture itself is nowhere taught in Scripture.

Our verse, however, assures us that the coming wrath is not our destiny. Our destiny is salvation and eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Hallelujah! Paul reminds us:

"He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him." (5:10)

Our loved ones who have died in Christ are safe and saved. They will be present to witness and participate in Christ's great coming.

Summary (5:11)

Paul had taught them about Christ's Second Coming previously. But in this passage he has outlined nine important points to comfort the grieving believers in Thessalonica -- and us!

Here are those nine points for review:

  1. The spirits of sleeping believers are with Christ now (4:14-15; 5:9).
  2. The Lord himself will descend from heaven (4:16).
  3. Christ will come with great glory (4:16).
  4. Christ will come with all his holy ones (4:14).
  5. Christ will gather all his people together in the rapture (4:17).
  6. The day of the Lord will come suddenly (5:1-3).
  7. Christ's coming will bring sudden judgment and destruction upon the wicked (5:3).
  8. In light of Christ's coming we must remain awake and self-controlled (5:4-8).
  9. Believers are destined for salvation, not wrath (5:9).

Paul concludes this section:

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." (5:11)

Prayer

Thank you, Father, for the promise of Christ's coming. We ask you to hasten the day and help us to be ready. We also ask you to send a mighty revival so that as many as possible might come to know you before the end comes and it is too late. In Jesus' mighty name, we pray. Amen.

Key Verses

"We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him." (1 Thessalonians 4:14)

"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

End Notes

[165] "Hope" iselpis, "the looking forward to something with some reason for confidence respecting fulfillment, hope, expectation" (BDAG 320, 1bβ).

[166] "Bring" isagō, "lead," here, "bring/take along" (BDAG 16, 1b).

[167] Endēmeō, "to be in a familiar place, to be at home" (BDAG 332), used in verse 6 and 8 both.

[168] Ekdēmeō, "be in a strange land," figuratively, "be away" (BDAG 300), the antonym of ednēmeō.

[169] "Come down" (NIV), "descend" (NRSV, KJV) is katabainō, "to move downward, come/go/climb down" (BDAG 513,1aγ).

[170] Keleusma, BDAG 538.

[171] Archangelos, BDAG 132. Our English words "archangel," archenemy," and "archbishop" all use the Greek prefix arch-, "chief, leader, ruler."

[172] "Trumpet call" (NIV), "sound of God's trumpet" (NRSV), "trump" (KJV) is salpinx, "a wind instrument used especially for communication, trumpet," then the sound made or signal given by a trumpet, trumpet-call, trumpet-sound" (BDAG 912, 2).

[173] "Are left" (NIV, NRSV), "remain" (KJV) is perileipomai, "remain, be left behind," both here and in verse 17 (BDAG 802).

[174] "Precede" (NIV, NRSV), "prevent" (KJV) is phthanō, "to be beforehand in moving to a position, come before, precede" (BDAG 1053, 1). "Prevent" (KJV) is an archaic usage which means, "to go or arrive before," from Latin praeventus, from prae- "before" +venire, "to come."

[175] Harpazō, BDAG 134, 2b.

[176] "Rape" (from Latin rapere) used to mean "to seize and take away by force," then "to despoil."

[177] "Gather" isepisynagō, "to bring together, gather (together)" (BDAG 382).

[178] We even see what may be a symbolic hint of the rapture in Revelation regarding the "two witnesses": "Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, 'Come up here.' And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on" (Revelation 11:12). Of course, this is a difficult passage to interpret.

[179] "Gathered" isepisynagōgē, "the action of assembling" (BDAG 382, 2).

[180] A number of New Testament Scriptures talk about God's wrath upon the wicked on the Last Day (Matthew 3:7; Colossians 3:6; 2 Peter 2:9-10; Revelation 6:16-17; 11:18; 14:19; 15:1, 7; 16:1, 19; 19:15).

[181] "Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light" (John 12:36a). "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8).

[182] Nēphō, BDAG 672.

[183] Nēphō, Thayer 425.

[184] Grēgoreō, BDAG 208, 2.

[185] Albrecht Oepke, egeirō, TDNT 2:333-339. "To be or become fully awake, watch" (Liddell-Scott).

[186] "Appoint" (NIV, KJV), "destined" (NRSV) is the very common verb tithēmi, "to put, place," here, in the middle voice with a double accusative, "consign someone to something" (BDAG 1003, 5b). The thought of 5:9 is similar to Acts 13:48, which says, "When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. Acts 13:48. "Appointed" (NIV), "destined" (NRSV), "ordained" (KJV) as in Acts 13:48 is tassō, "arrange, put in place," here, "assign someone to a (certain) classification" (BDAG 992, 1b).

[187] I've studied this issue from all angles and just don't find the Dispensational arguments convincing. To believe in the pre-trib rapture I'd have to believe a number of interpretations of Scripture that I'm just not comfortable with. For more on this see a popular-level discussion in Marvin Rosenthal, The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church (Nelson, 1990) and my study, The Book of Revelation: Discipleship Lessons (JesusWalk Publications, 2004, 2011). The pre-trib view is relatively new in Church history in the 1830s by John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren, and popularized in the US in the early 20th century through the Scofield Reference Bible and the Bible School Movement.


Copyright © 1985-2017, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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