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The Falling Away of 2 Thessalonians 2
Steven Anderson

 

"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." - Thessalonians 2:1-4

2 Thessalonians 2 is a passage in the Bible that warns us not to be deceived about the second coming of Christ. I have often used this passage to show people the truth about when the rapture will take place, but lately I have been shocked at the response that some people have given me. Apparently, those who believe that the rapture takes place before the tribulation actually believe that the "falling away" mentioned in verse 3 is referring to the rapture!

First of all, things don't fall up! How can anyone actually believe that the "falling away" is referring to believers being "caught up together" in the clouds?! Not only that, but the Bible uses the term "falling away" in other places, and the meaning is clear:

"They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away." - Luke 8:13

Is this a passage on the rapture? No, it is clearly referring to people falling away spiritually, which is a bad thing. This may seem basic, but when something falls it goes down, not up.

"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." - Hebrews 6:4-6

Again, this passage is definitely not referring to the rapture. This is talking about people falling away spiritually.

In an article entitled "Left Behind at the Rapture," David Stewart of the website "Jesus is Savior dot com" writes:

"The word 'rapture' is not found in the Bible, but the phrase 'falling away' certainly is. Though some theologians have concluded that the 'falling away' is only referring to ANARCHY, this erroneous teaching does not harmonize with the rest of the Bible. 'Falling away' in 2nd Thessalonians 2:3 in the Greek simply means 'a departure.'" - David Stewart

Here is an excerpt from his article "The Pre-tribulation Rapture:"

"I also believe that the word 'Rapture' does NO injustice to the Scriptures. The word 'Rapture' means 'to be caught away.' In the following Scriptures (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4), we read the term 'a falling away.' "The Greek meaning for this phrase is 'a departure.' I believe this that this term refers to the departure of the Saints." - David Stewart

Since things don't fall up, David Stewart has decided to "go back to the Greek" to tell us what the Bible REALLY says. Since I believe that the King James Bible is the preserved word of God, I don't think it is necessary at all to "go back to the Greek" since the term "falling away" is used repeatedly in our English Bible, and it is very clear what it means.

Mr. Stewart here deceitfully uses the Greek as a justification for changing what the Bible says. He claims that the Greek word simply means "a departure." What he fails to mention is that the Greek word here is "apostasia." If he had mentioned that, it may have been a little too obvious that the Bible is referring here to apostasy, i.e. falling away from the faith, not the rapture! The "departure" being referred to is a departure from the faith which is exactly what "apostasy" is!

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;" - 1 Timothy 4:1

The Greek word "apostasia" is used in only one other verse in the Bible:

"And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs." - Acts 21:21

"Forsake" is the English translation of the Greek word "apostasia." Again, this is a forsaking of doctrine, which is the definition of "apostasy." This deception illustrates why you should always take everything you hear with a grain of salt when preachers are "going back to the Greek." Usually they are just trying to change what the Bible says, as is the case here with a "falling away" being twisted into being "caught up" to the clouds.

Now that we have seen how the Bible itself defines "falling away" (departing from the faith), look at the passage again:

"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." - Thessalonians 2:1-4

The passage clearly states that the Day of Christ is not at hand, and that we should not allow people to deceive us that it is at hand. It goes on to say that the Day of Christ shall not come until AFTER there is a falling away, and AFTER the man of sin (antichrist) is revealed by sitting in the temple of God and claiming to be God. This event is referred to in the Bible as the Abomination of Desolation (see Daniel 11, 12 and Matthew 24).

According to the Bible, anyone who tells you that the Day of Christ is at hand is deceiving you. What is the Day of Christ? The "Day of Christ" is referred to 7 times in the Bible:

1 Cor 1:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Cor 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

2 Cor 1:14 As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Phil 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

The rapture cannot occur until the day of Christ since that is when the good work of sanctification he began in us will be complete, and we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Phil 1:10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

Phil 2:16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

2 Thess 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

The Bible is very clear that the rapture takes place AFTER the tribulation:

Matt 24:29 Immediately AFTER the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

Matt 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Matt 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

 

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The Day of the Lord
Steven Anderson

"The Day of the Lord" is an important phrase in the Bible referring to the coming day when God will begin to pour out his wrath upon this earth. Whether in the Old or New Testament, scriptures dealing with the Day of the Lord are very consistent and upon comparison paint a very clear picture of this coming day of God's wrath.

Isa 13:6 Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
Isa 13:7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt:
Isa 13:8 And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.
Isa 13:9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
Isa 13:10 For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
Isa 13:11 And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
Isa 13:12 I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.
Isa 13:13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.

Here are some elements found in this passage that will be seen repeated again and again in scriptures dealing with the Day of the Lord:

1. God's wrath
2. Destruction upon the wicked
3. Sun, moon, and stars darkened
4. Heaven and earth shaken
5. Likened unto a woman being in travail (labor)

Joe 1:15 Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.

Joel 2:9 They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.
Joel 2:10 The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:
Joel 2:11 And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?

Joel 2:30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
Joel 2:31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

In these scriptures from the book of Joel, we find many of the same elements:

1. God's wrath
2. Destruction upon the wicked
3. Sun, moon, and stars darkened
4. Heaven and earth shaken
5. Likened unto a thief
6. Clouds and darkness
7. Fire

Amo 5:18 Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.
Amo 5:19 As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.
Amo 5:20 Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?

In Amos' description, we see again:

1. Destruction upon the wicked
2. Total darkness

Zep 1:14 The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.
Zep 1:15 That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,
Zep 1:16 A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.
Zep 1:17 And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.
Zep 1:18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.

In Zephaniah's description, we see again:

1. God's wrath
2. Destruction upon the wicked
3. Clouds and darkness
4. Mighty men crying bitterly
5. A trumpet
6. Fire

When we get into the New Testament, God is still making the same type of references to the Day of the Lord:

Act 2:19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
Act 2:20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
Act 2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

In Acts 2, Joel 2 is being quoted, and again we see:

1. Destruction upon the unsaved
2. Sun and moon darkened
3. Clouds and darkness
4. Fire

1Th 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
1Th 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
1Th 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
1Th 5:4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
1Th 5:5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
1Th 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
1Th 5:7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
1Th 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
1Th 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

Once again, the same elements are associated with the Day of the Lord:

1. God's wrath
2. Destruction upon the unsaved
3. Darkness
4. Likened unto a woman in travail (labor)
5. Likened unto a thief

2Pe 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

1. Likened unto a thief
2. Heavens pass away with a great noise
3. Fire

Now that we have seen all three explicit references to the phrase "the Day of the Lord" in the New Testament, we need to put 1 Thessalonians 5 in its proper context. 1 Thessalonians 5 begins with the conjunction "but" and is a continuation of the thought begun in chapter 4.

1Th 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
1Th 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
1Th 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
1Th 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
1Th 4:18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

This, of course, is the clearest, most famous passage in the Bible concerning the rapture. However, many stop reading there instead of going on to chapter 5 and getting the rest of the story.

1Th 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
1Th 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

What is he referring to when he says, "the times and seasons"? He is referring to the times and seasons of what he just told us about in chapter 4 � the rapture. The church at Thessalonica had no need for Paul to write unto them of the times and seasons of the rapture because they already knew that the Day of the Lord is coming as a thief in the night. Therefore the timing of the Day of the Lord is the same as the timing of the rapture.

1Th 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
1Th 5:4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
1Th 5:5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
1Th 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
1Th 5:7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
1Th 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
1Th 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

1 Thessalonians 5:9 is referring back to the rapture discussed in 1 Thessalonians 4 and helps tie the entire passage together. Believers will be caught up in the rapture the same day as God pours out his wrath upon this earth. God's wrath will be poured out upon the earth immediately after the rapture takes place. This is exactly what Jesus taught in Luke 17:

Luk 17:26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
Luk 17:27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
Luk 17:28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
Luk 17:29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
Luk 17:30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
Luk 17:31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.
Luk 17:32 Remember Lot's wife.
Luk 17:33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
Luk 17:34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
Luk 17:35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Luk 17:36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Luk 17:37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.

Here Jesus is comparing the day when the Son of man is revealed to the days of the flood. Just as it began to rain the same day that Noah entered into the ark, God's judgment will come on the same day we are taken out of this world via the rapture. Likewise, just as fire rained on Sodom the same day Lot was taken out by the two angels, God's fiery judgment will be poured out on the same day we are taken out of this world by the rapture. That day is known as "the Day of the Lord." Luke 17 is 100% consistent with 1 Thessalonians 4 and 5.

Now let's look at another classic "Day of the Lord" passage from the New Testament.

Rev 6:12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
Rev 6:13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
Rev 6:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
Rev 6:15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
Rev 6:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
Rev 6:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

Here we see another clear reference to the day of the Lord, and all the key elements are there.

1. God's wrath
2. Destruction upon the unsaved
3. Sun, moon, and stars darkened
4. The heavens rolled back
5. Earthquake

It is important to note that here the King James Bible states that the day of his wrath "is come." Modern Bible versions have changed this to say "has come" and have thereby slightly altered the meaning. The phrase "is come" is clearly letting us know that the day of God's wrath had not come at a previous time but had just arrived at this instant. The Day of the Lord is again marked by the sun, moon, and stars being darkened, just as it is over and over again throughout the Old and New Testaments. Thus it is undeniable by anyone that the great day of the Lord's wrath occurs directly after the sixth seal is opened in Revelation 6 and not sooner.

Next we see the following statements opening chapter 7:

Rev 7:1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
Rev 7:2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
Rev 7:3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

It is clear from these verses that up to this point, God has not begun to damage the earth, the trees, or the sea. God's wrath is about to be poured out in the form of hail and fire mingled with blood that will burn up a third part of the trees and all the green grass. However, the rapture must first take place before he begins to rain fire upon the earth and pour out his wrath. Directly after this pronouncement and before God begins to pour out his wrath in Revelation 8, an innumerable multitude appears in heaven:

Rev 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

Rev 7:13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
Rev 7:14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Rev 7:15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
Rev 7:16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
Rev 7:17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Now that all believers have been removed he can begin to pour out his wrath the same day.

Rev 8:1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
Rev 8:2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
Rev 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
Rev 8:4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
Rev 8:5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
Rev 8:6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
Rev 8:7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

Now let's look at the clearest passage of all, Matthew 24, in which Jesus clearly lays out the timeline of the rapture in relationship with the Day of the Lord in perfect harmony with 1 Thessalonians 4 & 5 and Luke 17:

Mat 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
Mat 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Mat 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Here we see that the Day of the Lord and the rapture (which take place on the same day) occur immediately after the tribulation. Therefore the "tribulation" is not God pouring out his wrath since the great day of his wrath does not come until after the tribulation!

Let's keep reading in Matthew 24:

Mat 24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
Mat 24:33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
Mat 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Mat 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
Mat 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Mat 24:37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Mat 24:38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
Mat 24:39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Mat 24:40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Mat 24:41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Mat 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

Many people will refer to the fact that "no man knoweth the day nor the hour" of Christ's coming at the rapture which is referred to in verses 36 and 42. They are right to do so. However, they conveniently ignore the statement in verse 29 that this day will come after the tribulation and teach that Christ could come "at any moment" even thought the tribulation has not yet taken place.

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Who are the "elect"?
 

It is important to define the term "elect" used in the key passage in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 commonly known as the "Olivet Discourse." The word "elect" simply means "chosen," just as we would use it in common speech today. When we "elect" a president, we are "choosing" a man to fill that office. Since the Bible says "his elect," the passage is referring to God's chosen people. The question is, therefore, who are the elect? Who are God's chosen people? Many will answer that "the Jews" or "the nation of Israel" are God's chosen people, but that is a teaching that is blatantly contrary to the word of God.

 


Consider the following verse for example:

Rom 11:7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded

It is clear from Romans 11:7 that Israel and the election cannot be the same group. The Bible refers to those who are saved as the elect, regardless of whether they are Jew or Gentile.

1Th 1:4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

In 1 Thessalonians 1:4, the Gentile Thessalonians are referred to as being "elect." In fact, nowhere in the entire Bible are the Jews or the nation of Israel referred to as God's elect. To prove this, we will look at every single mention of the word "elect" in the Bible, beginning with the New Testament.

Out of 16 mentions of the term "elect" in the Bible:

10 refer to Believers in General
2 refer to Believers who are Gentiles
1 refers to Believers who are Jews
2 refer to Jesus Christ himself
1 refers to the person Jacob who was a Believer

The first mention of the word "elect" in the New Testament is Matthew 24. It is very easy to demonstrate that the word "elect" in Matthew 24 is not referring to the Jewish people.

Mention #1 - Matthew 24

Mat 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Mat 24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
Mat 24:23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
Mat 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

In verse 24, the Bible is telling us that false Christs and false prophets will be so convincing in the last days that if it were possible they would deceive the very elect. By saying, "if it were possible," God is making it very clear that it is not possible. The elect will not be deceived by false Christs and false prophets. In fact, God is saying that that would be impossible.

The word "elect" in Matthew 24 cannot be referring the Jewish people or the nation of Israel, since they are one of the most deceived groups in the world! Every Jewish Rabbi is a false prophet according to the Bible:

1Jn 2:22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
1Jn 2:23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

According to 1 John 2:22, every Jewish Rabbi is antichrist because they do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah (the Christ). Many Christians will make statements such as "the Jews believe the Old Testament," but Jesus made it clear in John 5 that this is not the case. According to Jesus, anyone who truly believes the Old Testament also believes in Jesus Christ:

Joh 5:46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.
Joh 5:47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

The fact that the religion of modern-day Israel, Judaism, is the religion of antichrist excludes them from being God's elect in Matthew 24.

Mention #2 - Mark 13

Mar 13:20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.
Mar 13:21 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:
Mar 13:22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.

The same thing applies here. The elect is referring to believers because they are the ones whom it will be impossible to deceive by false Christs and false prophets.

Joh 10:4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
Joh 10:5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

Joh 10:24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
Joh 10:25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.
Joh 10:26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
Joh 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
Joh 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Mention #3 - Luke 18

Luk 18:7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

This verse is not referring to the Jewish people since they for the most part reject the Lord Jesus Christ as their saviour.

1Jn 2:23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

The only Jews Luke 18:7 is referring to are those Jews which believe on Jesus Christ who are saved. Saved Jews are not the elect because they are Jews, they are the elect because they are saved!

Mention #4 - Romans 8

Rom 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.

Only those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are justified. This verse is referring to Roman Gentiles who are saved and therefore justified. This verse is not referring to the nation of Israel or the Jews.

Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Mention #5 - Romans 9-11

Rom 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

Rom 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
Rom 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Rom 11:7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded

According to Romans 9:11 and Romans 11:5,6 the election is not of works, but of grace. According to Romans 11:7, the entire nation of Israel is not elect. Only the believing remnant is elect. They are not elect because they are Jews; they are elect because they are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The believing Gentile Romans were referred to as elect in Romans 8. The believing remnant of Israel is referred to as elect in Romans 11. The common denominator is that the elect consists of all believers whether they be Jew or Gentile.

Mention #6 - Colossians 3:12

Col 3:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
Col 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

These verses are written to the Gentile Colossians to tell them that there is no difference between them and the Jews because they are both elect if they believe on Jesus Christ.

Mention #7 - 1 Thessalonians 1:4

1Th 1:4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

Again, Gentile Thessalonians are here referred to as God's elect.

Mention #8 - 2 Timothy 2:10

2Ti 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Mention #9 - Titus 1:1

Tit 1:1 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;

Here the "faith of God's elect" is mentioned. Therefore the elect are those who have faith in Jesus Christ. This scripture cannot be referring to the nation of Israel as the "elect," since their faith is not in Christ.

Mention #10 - 1 Peter 1:2

1Pe 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
1Pe 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

According to 1 Peter 1:2, one becomes elect through the blood of Jesus Christ. Therefore it is impossible for unbelieving Jews to be God's "elect" or God's "chosen people" since they do not have faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.

1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

According to verse 3, the elect are those who have been "begotten again," or born again.

Mention #11 - 1 Peter 2:6

1Pe 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
1Pe 2:6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

In 1 Peter 2:6, Jesus Christ himself is referred to as elect. The reason we as Christians are elect is that we are in Christ.

Mention #12 - 2 Peter 1:10

2Pe 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
2Pe 1:11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

According to 2 Peter 1:10,11, being elect is what gives you an entrance into the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Notice to whom the book of 2 Peter is being written:

2Pe 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:

Is the word elect referring to "the Jews"? No!

Mention #13 - 2 John

2Jn 1:1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;
2Jn 1:2 For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.

2Jn 1:13 The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.

Only believers in Jesus Christ have the truth dwelling in them. Unbelievers do not have the truth in them, whether they be Jew or Gentile. Therefore the term "elect" in verses 1 and 13 must be referring to a saved Christian.

Mention #14 - Isaiah 42:1

Isa 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

According to Matthew 12, Isaiah 42 is a prophecy of Jesus Christ. Therefore it is Jesus Christ himself who is being referred to here as God's "elect."

Mention #15 - Isaiah 45

Isa 45:4 For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.

In verse 4, God is referring to the person Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel, as his elect. The concept of Jacob being elect is reiterated in Romans 9:

Rom 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
Rom 9:12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
Rom 9:13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

Isaiah 45:4 is referring to Israel the person, not Israel the nation

Mention #16 - Isaiah 65

Isa 65:9 And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.

Gal 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

Gal 3:29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Isaiah 65 is referring to the second coming and millennial reign of Jesus Christ:

Isa 65:25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.

Isa 65:22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

According to verse 1 of the chapter, it is NOT referring to the Jews as his people, but rather to believers who are not of the nation of Israel:

Isa 65:1 I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name.

Rom 9:24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Rom 9:25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
Rom 9:26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

Rom 10:20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
Rom 10:21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

Therefore by reading Isaiah 65 in context, it is clear that it is referring to Christians in the millennium as God's elect and not the Jewish people.

Mat 21:43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

Summary:

Out of 16 mentions of the term "elect" in the Bible:

10 refer to Believers in General
2 refer to Believers who are Gentiles
1 refers to Believers who are Jews
2 refer to Jesus Christ himself
1 refers to the person Jacob who was a Believer

Do you see a pattern?

 

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How to Study the Bible
 Norman E. Colby
Copyright 2006 by Norman E. Colby. All rights reserved.

 

The author and copyright owner, Norman E. Colby, has given an exclusive right to Pastor Steve Anderson, at Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, to publish this article on the global Internet at www.kjvprophecy.com. This article may not be duplicated, whether in part or in whole, on any other website without prior, written permission from the author. This article may be downloaded for personal use, and for teaching or criticism, under the following conditions: (1) this article must be reproduced in its entirety, including this copyright/permissions notice, (2) this article may not be altered, modified, or appended in any way by addition, deletion, or change, whether by means of obliteration, notation, comments, footnotes, attachments, or any other means, (3) this article may not be bundled with any other material for subsequent republication, (4) this article may not be sold or traded under any circumstances, and (5) any distribution of this article must conform to all of the conditions stipulated above without any exceptions. Quotations taken from this article must be acknowledged, and must conform to accepted industry standards as well as to the conditions stipulated in 17 USC § 1.107. These limited grants must not be construed to permit any use incompatible with the author’s full rights and protections under 17 USC.

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“Study to shew thyself approved unto God,

a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,

rightly dividing the word of truth.”

(II Tim 2:15)

PROLOGUE to study

In order to study the Bible, students must have some knowledge of how the Bible is put together. The Holy Bible is divided into two parts called “Testaments”. A Testament is a “covenant” with God. The first Testament is called the Old Testament, which defines God’s covenant with the children of Israel. The second Testament is called the New Testament, which defines God’s covenant with the whole human race including Jews and Gentiles alike. According to the ancient canon, the Bible contains a total of 66 “books”, 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament.

The Old Testament (abbreviated “OT”) is subdivided into three parts: The Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms. The Law consists of two areas, the Pentateuch (meaning “Five books”) and the histories. The Pentateuch is also called the “Law of Moses”. It consists of the first five books of the OT: Genesis (the beginning), Exodus (coming out of Egypt), Leviticus (the priesthood), Numbers (the tribes of Israel), and the book of Deuteronomy (the second giving of the Law). The histories (Joshua through Esther, inclusive) narrate Israel’s experience under the Law as it applied to them. The Psalms collectively refers to the poetic books (Job through Song of Solomon, inclusive). The Prophets are further subdivided into two levels: the Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets – not to indicate any relative importance between them, but rather to indicate the relative length of their books. The Major Prophets are Isaiah through Daniel, inclusive, and the Minor Prophets are Hosea through Malachi, inclusive.

The New Testament (abbreviated “NT”) is subdivided into four parts: The Gospels (or the “good news”), early Church history, the epistles, and the Revelation. The Gospels describe the personal ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Christ (or the Messiah), while He was here on earth. There are four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The first three Gospels are called the “synoptic” Gospels because they present Jesus from a similar point of view; namely, the point of view of various men. The last Gospel is significantly different because it presents Jesus from God's own point of view. However, all four Gospels reveal that Jesus is the long awaited Savior who was predicted to come throughout the OT. The Gospels describe Jesus’ human birth by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, His manner of living, His doctrines, His miracles, His rejection by the Jews, His trial & crucifixion, and His resurrection from the dead. Everything in the OT leads up to the NT Gospels, and everything after the Gospels in the NT expands upon and explains them.

A history of the early churches is given in the book of The Acts of the Apostles. The 21 NT epistles, beginning with the book of Romans and ending with the book of Jude, are short letters written mostly to churches but occasionally to specific individual Christians. Accordingly, they are named for the city in which a given church was located (Romans through Thessalonians, inclusive), or, in the case of individuals, either for the person to whom it was sent (Timothy through Philemon, inclusive) or for the apostle by whom it was written (James through Jude, inclusive). The epistle to the Hebrews was written specifically for Jewish Christians to explain the relationship between the Old and the New Testaments. The book of Revelation (singular, not plural), which is also called the “Apocalypse”, is a prophetic book that lays out God’s plan for the end of the world.

Normally, Bibles have a list of the names of all the books in the Bible along with the page number within the Bible where that book begins. The list may easily be found at the very front of the Bible. Thus, to locate a specific book within the Bible, it is not necessary to have the order of the books memorized. All that is necessary is to look up the name of the book in the list and then turn to the specified page number. (Frequent use will soon familiarize one with the order of the books.)

The names of the books of the Bible are commonly abbreviated, usually by the first 3 or 4 letters of the book’s name. For example, Genesis would be “Gen” and Matthew would be “Matt”, etc. However, there are a few exceptions. Mark, Luke, & John are either written out or abbreviated “Mk”, “Lk”, & “Jn”, respectively. Philippians and Philemon, which have the same first 4 letters, are usually extended to 6 and 5 letters, respectively. In cases where more than one book was written to a church or individual, the name of the first book in the series is preceded by a Roman numeral “I” (called “First”), and the name of the second book in the set is preceded by a Roman numeral “II” (called “Second”), etc. For example, II Thessalonians would refer to the “second” book written to the church at Thessalonica.

The books of the Bible are divided into chapters, and each chapter is further subdivided into verses. Those divisions make it easy to locate a specific passage of scripture within the Bible. Within each book, each chapter is headed by a chapter number starting with “1”, which sequentially increments up from there for as many chapters as there are in that particular book. Each chapter is divided into verses, which are demarked by little numerals in the left margin of the verses. A specific verse, within a specific chapter, within a specific book is designated as follows: book name, chapter number within that book, a colon, and the verse number within that chapter. For example, the first verse of the first chapter of the first book of the Bible would be “Gen 1:1”, and the last verse of the last chapter of the last book of the Bible would be “Rev 22:21”. A reference to “John 3:16” would be to the 16th verse within the 3rd chapter of the Gospel of John.

If more than one consecutive verse within a single chapter is referenced, then the starting and ending verses will be separated by a dash. For example, “Eph 2:8-10” refers to verses 8, 9, & 10 in the 2nd chapter of Ephesians. Sometimes a string of references is given, all within the same book. In that case, the book name is only given once and the string of chapter and verse references follows the specified book. For example, John 1:34, 4:25-26, 6:66-69, 9:35-37, 11:25-27, 13:13, & 20:30-31 all refer to verses within the gospel of John. Occasionally, it may be desirable to draw attention to a particular part of a single verse, in which case a small letter “a, b, or c” will be attached to the end of the verse number, where “a” refers to the first part of the verse, “b” refers to the middle of a long verse or the end of a short verse, and “c” refers to the end of a long verse. For example, “Rom 2:4b” would refer to the last phrase of the text in Romans chapter 2, verse 4. Scripture references are commonly scattered throughout any discussion of the Bible’s doctrines to pinpoint the Biblical basis for any propositions being set forth.

Publications for Study

The only English language book commonly available today that can legitimately be called “The Holy Bible” is:

The Authorized King James Version of the Holy Bible

first published in 1611, and reprinted thousands of times since then. That book is THE BOOK to study. It is variously referred to as the AV 1611, AV, KJV, or KJ. A copy of the AV without any pre-printed notes by man is preferable to one that includes notes written by men, since the student is thereby forced to rely on God’s own words for understanding rather than leaning on some notable man’s opinions. (Please note at the outset that reading scholarly books and commentaries written by mere men is not Bible study!)

A good student must embrace these three fundamental axioms that undergird any useful study of the Bible: (1) the words of God, as given in the AV, are the exact English equivalent of what God originally said, word by word, and those words say in English exactly what He meant to say and mean exactly what He, in fact, did say at the time they were first transcribed by the ancient prophets and Apostles, (2) contained within the body of God’s written words are all the definitions and explanations necessary to comprehend God’s truth, and no extra-Biblical supplements or word-twisting logic are necessary for its correct interpretation, and (3) God gave us His written words in the AV so that we can know the thoughts of His mind, and He expects us to study those words in order to understand them. Moreover, we can understand His words and thoughts correctly if we will take the time and make the effort to thoroughly study them (II Cor 3:12).

There are two other books that may be helpful when studying the Bible: (1) a good English language dictionary, preferably one such as Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, and (2) a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.2
Those three books are all the publications you’ll need to effectively do your own independent Bible study.

Process of Studying

The first requirement for genuine Bible study is to be willing to believe exactly what the Holy Bible actually says, whether you like it or not (Rom 10:17 & Heb 11:6). Any failure at this point dooms one to failure entirely. As a note of caution, be forewarned that you must not study to forever be “learning” without ever coming to the knowledge of the truth (II Tim 2:16-18, 2:23, & 3:7-8). Moreover, do not study to “prove” that any falsehoods you may already hold are somehow true (I Tim 6:3-5 & II Tim 3:13). Instead, set aside your prejudice and just believe what God said the way He said it. You’ll find it’s a whole lot easier to understand the Bible when you accept what God says just the way He said it, without trying to force His words to fit into the preconceived notions of your own biased mind. One cannot overstress the fact that The Holy Bible simply cannot be understood unless you believe it first and foremost. If you want to understand the Bible, then what God’s written words say must take precedence over all your own personal thoughts about anything, regardless of how knowledgeable you think you already are on any given subject (Isa 55:8-9, Rom 1:22, I Cor 2:5, II Cor 10:5 & Gal 6:3).

The second requirement is personal prayer (John 16:24 & I Thess 5:17). You must ask God to help you believe His words (Matt 7:7 & Mark 9:23-24), and then to give you a true and correct understanding of those words (I Cor 2:9-12 & James 1:5-8).

The third requirement is meditation on God’s words (Psa 119:97, 63:6, & 1:2). God does not cast His pearls before swine, so do not expect the pearls of His word to be laying around where they can be trampled on by pigs (Matt 7:6). If you want to know what God has to say about something, then you must “search the scriptures” to find all His words on that subject (John 5:39, & Acts 17:11). Then you must “meditate” on those words, meaning you must think about them. The process of thoroughly thinking through all aspects of the scriptures you are studying can be very time consuming, but you cannot obtain a complete understanding of God’s words and mind unless you’re persistently willing to invest the required time and effort (Gal 6:9). Be prepared to spend the rest of your life working on your Bible studies.

Principles for Studying

The most important technique for Bible study is to look at the Words! Bible study is word study. The student must look at each word and believe every word in order to understand the truths of God embedded in those words.

It is important to read out of God's words everything that He said (exegesis), but it is equally important not to read into God's words anything that He did not say (eisegesis).

There are five basic principles that must be applied when studying words in the Bible; namely, the principles of the Christ-centeredness of the words, the literal meaning of a word, the contextual setting of the word, the sequential order of the words, and the overall harmony of the words when they are all put together as a whole.

Christ-centeredness of the words: This means we must give preeminence to Jesus Christ in all things – including the correct interpretation of both the Bible’s OT & NT (Col 1:18c). Everything in the Bible before Jesus’ words in the NT Gospels leaves many questions unanswered. Everything in the Bible after Jesus’ words in the NT Gospels is merely follow-up commentary on His life, work, and words as recorded in the Gospels. Consequently, there are some things that will be impossible to discern in both Testaments were it not for Jesus’ own personal explanation of those things in the Gospels! The Apostle Paul indicated this throughout his epistles (II Cor 3:14, I Thess 4:15a, et.al.). So, if we want to study a particular topic throughout the Bible, whatever that topic may be, our first question should always be: ‘What did Jesus personally say about that topic?’ His personal explanation is always essential for understanding any related topic from Genesis to Revelation.

If we exalt the ingenuity of our own biased minds over Jesus’ personal explanations, then we will fail to correctly understand God's words, mind, and will. Remember that the central focus of God’s words is not on man, but on Jesus Christ. Mankind comes into focus only as the object of the work of Jesus Christ, who is the real subject of the whole Bible. When we study we are not looking for our own personal benefit and glory; instead, we are looking for the benefit and glory of Jesus Christ.

EXAMPLE: The Olivet discourse (Matt 24, Mark 13, & Luke 21) is the only place in the entire Bible which chronologically ties together the events described in the OT at Dan 9:27, Joel 2:30-31 & Isaiah 26:19-21. Without Jesus’ Gospel explanation of how those events fit together, a correct understanding of His second coming as described in the NT cannot be obtained (and this is especially true when attempting to analyze the book of Revelation).

Literal meaning of the words: This means that the words of the Bible literally mean just exactly what they normally mean in plain, ordinary, everyday conversation. Words must be taken literally in order to ensure the objectivity of their interpretation, thereby eliminating any “subjective” opinions based on some man’s speculative imagination.

EXAMPLE of literal word meaning: An important example of applying a literal meaning to words concerns the words “Israel” and “church”. Catholics, and certain Protestant denominations, often confuse the two, and reach the erroneous theological conclusion that NT churches have subsumed the OT’s national Israel in God’s scheme of things. If that were true, then God’s OT promises to Abraham, Moses, David, & Israel cannot be taken literally, which violates one of the very first principles of correctly interpreting the scriptures!

Interpreting the literal meaning of a word also requires us to check the number of the noun and the tense of the verb. For example, in Luke 17:37 the word “body” is singular, not plural. How does the difference between singular and plural affect the literal interpretation of that verse? Again, in John 3:13 the word “is” is in the present tense, even though Jesus was physically present here on earth while speaking. Could that have a bearing on any Biblical doctrines? In Rom 8:30 the word “glorified” is in the past tense, even though we have not yet actually been glorified. How can that be?

(One can learn a lot by meditating on little things, which are the very things that have made studying God's every literal word so compelling to Bible believers for the past 3,500 years. Too often we read right over what God actually said, thereby missing important knowledge.)

However, not every word in the Bible was intended to be taken in its most literal sense, as defined in a dictionary. Just as figures of speech are used in ordinary conversation, the Bible likewise uses figures of speech. In order to distinguish between a word’s literal, dictionary-style meaning and its interpretation as a figure of speech, all that is necessary is a little common sense: can the word be scripturally understood when taken in its absolute, literal sense? If so, then take it literally; if not, then search the scriptures further to determine how God is using that particular figure of speech. In no case may a legitimate figure of speech be freely interpreted in whatever way one may desire to justify some preconceived notion. Any interpretation of a figure of speech must always fit its context, and its interpretation must always harmonize with all the rest of the Bible.

EXAMPLES of figure of speech: John 10:7 (one of the seven “I am’s”) is an example of an obvious figure of speech requiring no explanation here. A less obvious example is John 6:52. From its overall context, we see that Jesus was not actually advocating cannibalism, since His subsequent words in verse 6:63 specifically state that He intends for us to take His words in a “spiritual” sense, not a “physical” sense. If Jesus had intended those words to be taken literally (as in “transubstantiation”), then He would have been contradicting God’s prohibition in Lev 17:10. Thus, it can be seen that the correct interpretation of a difficult figure of speech requires a harmonious reconciliation of the figure with its immediate context as well as with all the rest of the Bible.

Sometimes a figure of speech may not seem to be a figure of speech at first glance, and a literal interpretation of it may produce a false idea. An example of resolving this problem will be examined in detail in a later section.

Contextual setting of the words: The context of a word, phrase, or sentence refers to its surrounding higher orders of literal construction. Thus, the context of a word is the phrase or sentence in which it appears. The context of a sentence is the verse or paragraph in which it appears. The context of a paragraph is the entire chapter in which it occurs. The context of a chapter is the particular book of the Bible in which it occurs. The context of each book in the Bible is, of course, the entire Bible as a whole. Contextual meaning refers to keeping all thought construction in a word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter compatible with the sense of all their higher orders as they expand Bible-wide.

EXAMPLES: The Bible says that Judas went out and hung himself (Matt 27:5). Luke 10:37 says, “Go, and do thou likewise.” Is there a valid connection between those scripture references? No, of course not, because the verse in Luke was applied “out-of-context”. When the Bible says something in one place, it cannot be applied to an unrelated passage in a different place! Another example of taking a verse out of context is the common error of applying Matt 24:36, in the Olivet discourse, to a pre-tribulational interpretation of I Thess 4:17. (Unfortunately, the requirement to maintain contextual integrity is frequently violated by many expositors when interpreting scriptures, and that error leads them into many false doctrines.)

A correct application of context to the interpretation of God’s words also requires us to bear in mind who is talking to who, when, and about what. For example, in I John 1:9, the Apostle John, when speaking about confessing our sins to have them forgiven, was not writing to unbelievers who were still lost, but to believers who were already saved.

Context also requires us to distinguish between God’s perspective and man’s perspective. This will help us to understand why God said “glorified” in Rom 8:30. When a man says he will do something, he may or may not do it. But when God says He will do something, then it’s as good as if it were already done (Rom 4:21); hence, God’s use of the past tense for a future event. Perspective also helps us to reconcile our emotional feelings to the mind of God as expressed in verses like Psa 116:15 & Eze 33:11a.

A subset of context involves the use of what is called a “type” in the Bible. A type is something in the OT that symbolizes something that is fulfilled in the NT. Some expositors get carried away with explaining types in infinite detail. But a good student must recognize that types have limits. Just because something is a type not mean that every little detail within that thing is a ‘sub-type’.

Two outstanding examples of types are the Passover lamb and the OT tabernacle. Thus, when John the Baptist referred to Jesus as “the Lamb of God” in John 1:36, he did not mean that Jesus was an animal; rather, he meant that Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the “Passover Lamb” typified long before in Exodus 12:3-13. This is also an example of correctly interpreting a “figure of speech” by referencing the OT for an appropriate background to understand how the figure is being used in the NT. The OT tabernacle in Exodus & Leviticus bristles with many types whose ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ is explained in the NT book of Hebrews. Applying the blueprint of the OT tabernacle type to the heavenlies, as described in Hebrews, also helps us to understand what’s going on in the NT book of Revelation – enabling us to more thoroughly study that book with profit.

Sequential order of the words: Context, in its turn, is dependent upon sequence. Sequence refers to the chronological order in which the words are expressed. Since sequence indicates the ancestral relationships between the various parts of a topic that is being developed over the course of the Bible, contextual background is necessarily generated by the order in which the words were given. Thus, to correctly trace the development of a doctrine through the Bible, it is necessary to start at its point of first mention in the scriptures, and to follow its progress through the scriptures in the order of its sequential unfolding.

There are several aspects to “sequence” in the Bible. One important aspect is called “first mention”. First mention refers to the first time something is mentioned in the Bible, chronologically speaking. A principle developed at a point of first mention becomes a foundation stone that all subsequent doctrinal development of that point will harmonize with.

EXAMPLES: Gen 2:16-17 is the first mention of God communicating with man. Among its many important ramifications is the knowledge of how to determine God’s will for our lives. The principle developed here will hold true for that topic throughout all the rest of the Bible. Gen 3:1 is the first mention of “that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan”. (as per Rev 12:9), illustrating one of his basic characteristics: lies & deceit (as per John 8:44b), characteristics that will follow him all the way through to the end of the Bible. Gen 3:15 is the first mention of God’s intent to provide us a Savior from the curse of sin, a Savior born of woman (i.e., without a man); a virgin-born Savior, which in due time came to fruition (Isa 7:14, Luke 1:35, Gal 4:3, et.al.).

Note that the location of a first mention within the Bible may vary by the word, book, or topic selected, or even by the speaker. For example, just because the Gospel of Matthew is the first NT Gospel by the order in which they are physically printed in the Bible does not mean that Matthew 24 is the first exposition of Jesus’ second coming in the NT, since Luke 17 chronologically precedes the Olivet discourse, even though the Gospel of Luke is physically printed after Matthew. (For purposes of Bible study, this would mean that, contextually speaking, a correct interpretation of the Olivet discourse depends on first obtaining a correct interpretation of Jesus’ sequentially prior discourse on His second coming in Luke 17.)

A related aspect of sequence is called “progressive revelation”. What this means is that God’s truths are not revealed all at once, but gradually over time (see again, Matt 7:6). This is precisely why one must “search” (John 5:39) and “study”. (II Tim 2:15) God’s words in order to determine the whole truth of a matter. The whole truth of any matter cannot be determined until every reference pertaining to that matter, in both the OT & NT, has been thoroughly studied. Failure to successfully accomplish the required search and study will certainly result in a misunderstanding, if not an outright false doctrine. That, in turn, usually results in unjust criticism of Jesus and the Bible from unbelievers who don’t know what they’re talking about any more than false teachers do. (This is especially true of perversions of Bible prophecy.)

EXAMPLES: One example of progressive revelation is our previous observation on the relationship between Luke 17 and the Olivet discourse, which many expositors fail to take into account. Another example of progressive revelation can be traced from Gen 3:21 (a point of first mention concerning the shed blood of a substitute to cover our sins) through Gen 4:4, & 22:8 to Ex 12:5-7, Lev 17:11, Isa 53:7, and on to John 1:36 & 19:34, I Cor 5:7b, Col 1:14, & Rev 5:6-9, et.al. (A study on the latter example’s topic is vital to the doctrine of Salvation.)

A third aspect of sequence is called “repetition”. Repetition occurs when a statement is made first in one place without much detail, and then later the statement will be repeated in similar terms but with more explanatory information added. (Keep in mind the principle of “first mention” when following the progress of a doctrine’s revelation through repetition.)

EXAMPLE: A good example of “repetition” may be seen by comparing Luke 17:24 & 37 with Matt 24:27-28, which in turn is elaborated upon more fully in the subsequent verses at Matt 24:29-31, and so on through later NT prophetic scriptures (such as Matt 24:29 receiving additional explanatory information in Rev 6:12-17, et.al.). This example aptly illustrates the effect that sequence has on context as doctrinal revelation progresses through scripture from its point of first mention.

The last aspect of sequence that will be examined is called “double reference”. A double reference is a Biblical passage that pertains to an immediate matter at hand and at the same time serves as a prophetic precursor of something still to come in the future. An example of this is found in Isa 61:1-3, where Isaiah declares that he has been appointed by God to declare certain things to Israel. Yet, in Luke 4:17-21, Jesus declares that this OT scripture was fulfilled in Him. So the passage had two applications: first to Isaiah, and later to Jesus – a double reference. Another example of a double reference is Luke 21:20-24, which foretells of Jerusalem’s desolation under Titus, AD 70, and yet portends another desolation at some still future time (Rev 11:2). [Note: For study purposes, the student should know that the prediction in the book of Revelation was written about AD 96, or 25 years after Jerusalem was destroyed. The chronological significance of that sequence is that the application of Luke 21:24 to the prior event, AD 70, cannot be the “fulfillment” of the subsequent event in Rev 11:2. That fact, coupled with the necessary harmony of Luke 21, Matthew 24, & Mark 13, is what requires Luke 21 to be considered a “double reference”.] Failure to recognize the principle of double reference, when applicable, may easily result in a false division of the word and a false doctrine.

Harmony of all the words when put together as a whole: The effort of comparing words, lines, verses, and passages with other words, lines, verses, and passages according to their literal word meanings, contexts, and sequences is generally called “comparing scripture with scripture”. When all elements of grammatical construction (literal words, within their appropriate context, as sequentially revealed) have been correctly related to one another by analyzing all the relevant scripture, such that there are no inconsistencies of sense between any of the parts composing the whole, then the result is a harmony of the scriptures pertaining to that topic.

An essential tool for determining harmony between various passages of scripture is the principle of comparison & contrast, which enables us to reconcile things that are the same, and to differentiate things that are different. Comparison looks for similarities within two or more passages, whereas contrast looks for differences between two or more passages. The student should compare & contrast the literal words and their contexts as well as the times, peoples, places, & actions present in the passages up for study. The strength or weakness of the relationship between the passages can be determined from how well they match, versus how significantly they differ. The degree of correlation both ways will determine how they should be interpreted. A good match indicates a close relationship, whereas significant differences indicate little relationship.

EXAMPLE: Will a comparison and contrast of Matt 24:29-31 & Rev 6:12-17 tend to reconcile or differentiate those passages? [Hints for analysis: Do the exact words of Matt 24:29 & Rev 6:12-13 suggest any possibilities? Exactly what happens in Matt 24:30? Would that have any bearing on the meaning of the literal words “the heaven departed” in Rev 6:14? (Would you like to check that word out in Strong’s?) Does that throw any light on what people are evidently seeing in Rev 6:16? What specific words determine the relationship of the people’s responses in Matt 24:30 & Rev 6:16-17? What is the significance of the difference between the actions taken in Matt 24:31 & Rev 6:15-16? Could that difference be explained by Matt 24:40-42?]

One good rule for determining the fitness of a harmony is known as Ockham's Razor. This rule states that the best explanation for anything is the simplest explanation that has the least assumptions. The more complicated an explanation is, the more likely it is to be wrong. The student should keep this rule in mind when evaluating the Biblical harmony of any interpretation of the scriptures, regardless of the topic.

EXAMPLES: Does it require a more complicated explanation to differentiate Matt 24:30-31 from I Thess 4:13-17, or a simpler explanation to reconcile them? Compare and contrast those passages, then draw a tentative conclusion concerning this pair. Also, does it require a more complicated explanation to reconcile Matt 24:30-31 with Rev 19:11-21, or is there a simpler explanation that differentiates them? Compare and contrast those passages, then draw a tentative conclusion concerning this pair. Which conclusions tend to a greater harmony of the scriptures? Can you employ comparison and contrast to harmonize potential relationships between all of the following passages: Luke 17:22-37, Matthew 24:27-31, I Thessalonians 4:13-18, Revelation 6:12-17, & Revelation 19:11-21? What might be your preliminary conclusion? What additional information would you need to finalize your conclusion?

In a previous section, notice was made of figures of speech that are not readily apparent. An example would be Luke 17:37. An examination of its immediate context will show that Jesus’ disciples were concerned about “Where” a multiple number of people were being taken (Luke 17:34-36). Does the singular number of the noun “body”, in Jesus’ response (Luke 17:37), satisfy the disciples’ concern for a plural number of people? Or, would the plural number of the noun “eagles” be a better fit for purposes of interpreting this verse? In order to control the scriptural interpretation of this figure, the student would do well to trace the expression in Luke 17:37 back to an OT type, specifically back to Ex 19:4 (which, in turn, must be considered within its own context – Ex 19:1-4). You might like to use Strong’s to trace the use of the word “eagles” in the OT. When checking out the first-person, singular pronoun “I” in Ex 19:4, you might also like to check out John 10:30. Who was carried on “eagles wings” in Ex 19:4? Given the validity of the relationship of the OT reference to Jesus words in Luke 17:37, and after comparing & contrasting Ex 19:4 & Luke 17:37, who would you say the word “body” in Luke 17:37 best refers to? How, then, would you interpret the action in Luke 17:34-37? How would your interpretation of Jesus prior discourse in Luke 17:34-37affect the interpretation of Jesus’ subsequent discourse on the Mount of Olives (note Matt 24:25)? Once again, this illustrates the principle that the interpretation of a figure of speech must always fit its context, and harmonize with the all rest of the Bible (including both prior & subsequent scriptures, as applicable).

Are you beginning to understand the harmony of words, context, & sequence?

NOTE: The previous examples are designed to illustrate how various study principles must be combined to analyze the extent of harmony and discord between different passages of scripture. The student’s conclusions may or may not be valid, depending on the neutrality and quality of work performed.

Purpose of Study

The purpose of Bible study is to derive a Bible-wide harmony of scripture on a given topic of interest. A harmony of scripture derived from Bible study is known as a “doctrine”. Any so-called ‘doctrine’ that fails to harmonize with all of the relevant scripture cannot possibly be a true doctrine, because a lack of perfect harmony leaves contradictions between the so-called ‘doctrine’ and the remaining un-harmonized scriptures. On the other hand, an irrefutable and definitely true doctrine is produced when all the relevant scriptures are correctly and perfectly harmonized with one another. Accordingly, due to the unity of scripture, all true doctrines will always harmonize with one another as well.

Remember, there are no contradictions in the Bible. If something in your study seems to be out of sync with everything else, then it is because insufficient study was applied to reconcile the apparent discrepancy. A good workman studying the scriptures must consistently and thoroughly apply the rules outlined herein, as applicable in any given scripture problem, in order to “rightly divide” the word of truth so as to achieve a correct understanding of the Bible’s true doctrines.

Prompt to Study

There are many different ways to approach a Bible study. One may study a specific person, subject, name, word, or doctrine. One may compare and contrast specific words and how they are used throughout a Testament, examine chronological relationships, analyze a specific book in the Bible, or determine the relationships between various books within the Bible. One may study anything in the Bible that compels study for whatever reason. However, the student should always select a topic of personal interest, yet one with a useful purpose for the cause of Christ. Don’t start with the most difficult topic imaginable. Start with something that you can successfully accomplish, and work your way up to more complicated areas as your analytical skills develop. But whatever you do, do not study to be “ever learning” without ever coming to a knowledge of the truth (I Tim 4:15).3

Serious Bible study is not an "option" for Christians; it is an obligation. We are commanded directly from the mouth of our Savior to “search” the scriptures (John 5:39); we are instructed by His faithful disciple Paul to “study” the scriptures (II Tim 2:15); and, we have the example of Berean church members who engaged in both daily (Acts 17:11). So God expects His people to take His words very seriously (Psa 138:2c).

Given your personal responsibility to obey the Lord Jesus Christ, do you think it is important to become a serious student of the scriptures? If so, then how will you get started on a study of the Bible? Your Bible study can start by asking yourself this question: “What does the Bible say about ______________? (You fill in the blank.)

Now all you have to do is STUDY to find the answer!

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AUTHOR’s NOTES

1 Portions of this article have been extracted from another book entitled The True Resurrection (copyright 1989, 2006), by the same author. However, for simplicities sake, direct quotations from that work have not been noted herein.

2 How to use Strong's Concordance: Strong's concordance is alphabetically organized like a dictionary of words in which every word in the AV is listed. However, instead of word definitions, the accompanying information under each word consists of a list of scripture references containing that particular word. Every scripture reference under that word has a short phrase from the verse containing the word. The scripture references are listed in the same order as the books, chapters, and verses in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. This makes it easy to find any verse in the Bible containing a specific word. If one remembers a short phrase containing that word somewhere in the Bible, but can't recall just exactly where it was located, the Concordance will help locate it.

All one needs to do is look up the word in the Concordance and scan down the list of phrases under that word until the appropriate phrase is recognized. The attached scripture reference will usually identify the verse you're looking for. (If one at least remembers the book in which the word occurs, then just scan the phrases under that book only.)

Along the right hand margin of each word-phrase is a number (or a ditto mark repeating the previous number). Those numbers form "Strong's numbering system". The numbers refer to entries in one of two "dictionaries" at the back of the Concordance. One dictionary is for OT Hebrew words and the other is for NT Greek words. If a single English word has multiple meanings, and its context in scripture does not clarify the ambiguity, then one may look up the meaning of its corresponding Hebrew or Greek word in the appropriate dictionary at the back of the Concordance to see if that definition might clear up the confusion. First, find the appropriate scripture reference in the Concordance for the English word in question (using the procedure just outlined in the preceding paragraph), then find the corresponding Strong's number in the right hand margin at that particular scripture reference, and, finally, find the same number in the Hebrew or Greek dictionary (as appropriate) at the back of the Concordance. Under that number will be found the applicable Hebrew or Greek root word along with its dictionary definition printed in English. Compare that definition to the one in your standard English dictionary to select the specific English meaning that is most appropriate for context of the verse in question.

Note: For practice, you may want to look up the word 'took' in Matt 24:39. But first, read the verse in your Bible. Can you tell just exactly who was taken away in Matt 24:39? Now find the word 'took' in your Strong's Concordance, and scan down the column to the book of Matthew (abbreviated "M't"), and then under that book continue scanning on down the column until reaching the applicable chapter & verse ('24:39'). The corresponding Stong's number in the right-hand margin at that point is '142'. Since the verse we're working with is in the NT, flip to the Greek dictionary at the back of the Concordance, and look up the number '142'. Read the definition of the word under that number. Now do you know who was taken away?

3 The notions of dispensationalism and covenantism are not valid hermeneutical principles. In order for either of those two notions to qualify as anything worthwhile, they must first have been derived from a study of scripture independently of their own built-in bias, using neutral objective criteria such as those described herein. If either of the two notions mentioned above could be established using valid hermeneutical techniques, then they would become Bible doctrines, but they could not become additional hermeneutical principles! Consequently, since those two notions do not qualify as legitimate hermeneutical principles for analyzing the scriptures, they have been deliberately excluded from discussion in this article concerning the proper hermeneutical methods for Bible study.

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Concerning Immanence and the Second Coming

 

Norman E. Colby
Copyright 1996, 2007 by Norman E. Colby. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

The author and copyright owner, Norman E. Colby, has given an exclusive right to Pastor Steve Anderson, at Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, to publish this article on the global Internet at www.kjvprophecy.com. This article may not be duplicated, whether in part or in whole, on any other website without prior, written permission from the author. This article may be downloaded for personal use, and for teaching or criticism, under the following conditions: (1) this article must be reproduced in its entirety, including this copyright/permissions notice, (2) this article may not be altered, modified, or appended in any way by addition, deletion, or change, whether by means of obliteration, notation, comments, footnotes, attachments, or any other means, (3) this article may not be bundled with any other material for subsequent republication, (4) this article may not be sold or traded under any circumstances, and (5) any distribution of this article must conform to all of the conditions stipulated above without any exceptions. Quotations taken from this article must be acknowledged, and must conform to accepted industry standards as well as to the conditions stipulated in 17 USC § 1.107. These limited grants must not be construed to permit any use incompatible with the author's full rights and protections under 17 USC.

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Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour

wherein the Son of man cometh.”

(Matt 25:13)

Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”

(Mark 13:35-37)

Introduction

The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ second coming clearly state that the time of Jesus’ return cannot be precisely known beforehand, and they admonish us to continually watch for that event. Those warnings give rise to what is popularly known as the “imminent” return of Christ.

According to Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary (1967), the word “imminent” means “ready to take place” (p. 417). The word “imminent” and its synonym “impending” share a common meaning of “threatening to occur very soon”, but “imminent” has a fine nuance emphasizing the “shortness of time before happening” (p.418). The imminent return of Christ is the idea that His return is ready to take place very soon, or that it is about to happen quickly in the sense that there will be very little delay before it occurs. In other words, to say that Jesus’ return is imminent is to say that He is right now on the verge of coming back.

At the outset, it should be noted that this study is not designed to sort out any fine nuances which the word “imminent” may have. The word “imminent” is not even in the Bible. It is merely a convenient handle to attach to an idea in order to facilitate the discussion of Jesus’ second coming. Throughout this study our focus will not be so much on what men say the word “imminent” means, as it will be on what God’s literal words in the Bible actually say about the time of Jesus’ return.

The imminent return of Christ, as it has been defined above, is taught throughout the New Testament from Matt 4:17 to Rev 22:20. The basis for the imminent return of Christ is found in Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks. Since the first 69 weeks were fulfilled at the crucifixion, there now remains only the last week of seven years to completely fulfill the prophecy. Put another way, there is only 1½ % of the total time (i.e., 7/490 years) left in God’s prophecy before the kingdom is established on earth, and Christ’s second coming must precede the kingdom (Acts 1:6-7). Indeed, the time is short, akin to a sprinter running the hundred yard dash with his foot about ready to come down on the one-yard line just ahead of the finish line. The race will soon be over, but who can say when the countdown on those last seven years shall begin ?

Unfortunately, there are some who have subtilely changed the truth concerning imminence into a lie. The truth is that “Jesus will return very soon.” The lie into which it has been corrupted is that “Jesus could return at any moment, maybe even today.” That subtle change creates two extremely different ideas. Although both ideas of imminence hinge on the genuine "unpredictability” of the time of Jesus’ return, only the former one is literally Biblical. The latter one is wholly extra-Biblical, invented by adding notions to the text which are not actually present, and by taking scriptures out of context.

The purpose of this article, therefore, is to set forth the true doctrine of Jesus’ imminent return, and to demolish the popular lie into which it has been converted.

The Truth About Imminence

Several passages within the Olivet discourse strongly emphasize the fact that we cannot know the exact day and hour when Jesus will return, to wit: Matt 24:36, 42-44 & 50, 25:13, Mark 13:32-37, & Luke 21:34-36 (See also Luke 12:37-48).

In fact, after those references which Jesus personally gave to us in His own words in the Gospels, there are no other literally explicit references to the “unpredictability” of the time of Jesus’ return anywhere else in the NT! Moreover, there is not one single reference in the entire Bible which literally states that Jesus will return at “any moment.”

All of the scripture references which are frequently invoked to change the truth of imminence into a lie are only explicit references to watching for or patiently waiting for Jesus to return, or else simple references to the quickness & nearness of His return, or even just to the fact of His return: Acts 1:11, Rom 13:11-12, I Cor 1:7, Philip 3:20, 4:5, Col 3:4, I Thess 1:10, 5:6, I Tim 6:14, II Tim 4:8, Titus 2:13, Heb 9:28, James 5:8, I Pet 4:7, II Pet 3:3-4, Rev 1:3, 3:3, 16:15, 22:7, 10, 12, & 20, et.al. Not a single one of those references literally refers to an “any moment” return, and many of them do not even have as much as an oblique connection to the time or conditions of Jesus’ return.

Probably one of the best NT examples of a clear reference to the fact that no one can predict the time of Jesus’ return is found in the Olivet discourse at Mark 13:35. Careful readers will notice that the verse does not literally say that Jesus “could” return at any hour of the day (or, by extension, at “any time or moment”). All the verse actually says is that we do not know at which of those hours in the day He will return. Moreover, the illustration, figuratively using the watch-hours of a ‘day’ to represent the times in which Jesus will return, when applied to real time, could extend to virtually any length or shortness of duration. So the idea in Mark 13:35 is not that Jesus could return at “any moment”; rather, from its immediate context (Mark 13:32-37), the idea is that, since we do not know exactly when Jesus will return, we must keep on working for our Lord without slacking off no matter how late the hour becomes.

There is absolutely no justification for jumping to the conclusion that Jesus could return at “any moment” just because we cannot know the exact “day and hour” of His return, or just because we were told to continually “watch” for His return. Any such conclusion requires reading notions into the text that are not even present while ignoring literal words that are plainly stated in the text. The only purpose of Jesus’ admonitions concerning the time of His return is to keep His people in a state of constant expectancy as a motivation to ceaseless service without “giving up” just because the hour may get late. Since the purpose was certainly not to contradict the entirety of His previous statements within the same discourse, any further implications which those admonitions may have must be derived from a careful study of their context within Jesus’ entire discouse on the Mount of Olives.

It is of no little consequence for prophetic interpretation that all of the most explicit references to the “unpredictability” of the time of Jesus’ return are located within the context of the Olivet discourse! (The only possible exceptions are Rev 3:3b & 16:15; however, their context within the book of Revelation is not adverse to the context of Jesus’ words in the Gospels.)

Consequently, when Jesus said that His return was unpredictable with respect to time, He was necessarily referring to His second coming as He had just described it within the Olivet discourse (Matt 24:27-31).

This is significant, because the Olivet discourse limits the timeframe of Jesus’ second coming to a specific span of time bracketed by the abomination of desolation on the one side (Matt 24:15, et.al.), and by the initiation of God’s wrath on the other side (based on the interrelationship of the Olivet discourse and Jesus’ previous discourse in Luke 17:22-37). The context of the passages explicitly referring to the unpredictability of Jesus’ second coming thus constrains the application of “imminence” to that same time bracket! Thus, imminence with regard to Jesus’ second coming is not one of “any moment (maybe even today) imminence”; rather, it is one of “constrained imminence”.

So the truth is that the unpredictable status of Jesus’ return is specifically oriented toward a limited time span which will only begin when the abomination of desolation occurs at the middle of Daniel’s 70th Week (hence, the warnings in Luke 17:31, Matt 24:17-18, et.al.). By extension, since no one can tell exactly when those last seven years will begin, the unpredictable status of Jesus’ second coming gains universal application over all time. This means that it is impossible for anyone to ever calculate the exact day and hour of Jesus’ return – even from the prophecy of Daniel’s 70 weeks (such as by trying to peg it to the exact beginning, middle, or end of the 70th week).

More important for the present discussion, it also means that, although Jesus’ return is now imminent (in the sense that it is going to happen very soon – from God’s prophetic point of view), it is not nowany moment” imminent because the “abomination of desolation” has not yet occurred. In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote II Thess 2:1-4 for the specific purpose of making that point perfectly clear!

This stance on imminence is the only valid Biblical position which can be taken by anyone who takes the scriptures literally. It is the position which Jesus Himself established. There is nothing in anything the Apostle Paul, or any other Apostle, ever wrote that contradicts it. Not one of them ever said anywhere that Jesus could return at “any moment”. Instead, the very words of both Jesus and Paul contradict the notion of an “any moment” imminence.

Therefore, since the Bible does not literally state that Jesus could return at “any moment,” and since that notion directly contradicts what the Bible does literally state about the time of Jesus’ return, it is (at the present time, AD 2007) impossible for Jesus to return “at any moment, maybe even today” as a certain cultic sect often claims.

To summarize the matter so far, we note that Jesus said He will not return until after the abomination of desolation, which according to Dan 9:27 will occur at exactly the middle of the last seven years of this present age of grace. Only after that event occurs will Jesus’ second coming become “any moment” imminent. Until that time comes, everyone who says that Jesus Christ can return at “any moment, maybe even today” is, according to Jesus Himself (Matt 24:11), deceiving God’s people with a bold-faced lie!

The Lies About Imminence

Although the Biblical truth concerning imminence is fairly simple and systematic, as should be expected (II Cor 3:12), the cult’s complicated lies about it are a cunningly tangled web that forestalls easy detection. The cult’s ingenious lies distort what the Bible says about signs of Jesus’ second coming, make claims about things not even discussed in a passage, ignore things that are discussed, brazenly take whole passages right out of their contexts, and generally evince a complete failure to even think in a reasonable manner. This section will dissect and discard the cult’s primary lies about “imminence” and Jesus’ second coming.

One of the cult’s commonly-repeated lies about imminence is that Jesus can return at “any moment, maybe even today,” without regard to the necessary occurrence of any other prophetic events, and that the admonition to simply “watch” for His return actually precludes any prior events signaling His second coming.

It should be noted that Jesus’ disciples triggered the Olivet discourse by asking for “the sign” (Mark 13:4) of His second coming, and that the specific sign they were instructed to look for (literally, to “see” in Mark 13:14) is the “abomination of desolation”. It is quite significant that Jesus instructed His disciples to “watch” (Mark 13:37) for His return, even though He had just finished telling them that it will not happen until after they first see the abomination of desolation come to pass. This sequence of words and events is mirrored in all three accounts of the Olivet discourse. Thus, Jesus’ admonition to “watch” was actually made within the context of His own words setting forth the “abomination of desolation” as a prior “sign” of His return.

It has been shown that the only explicit references to the unpredictability of Jesus’ return are found within the Olivet discourse, and that those references must be interpreted within the context of that discourse. Moreover, it has also been shown that Jesus instructed those who believe in Him to “watch” for His return as He has described it within the Olivet discourse, even though that event will not occur until after another specific prophetic event has occurred by way of a “sign”. Those observations contradict the cult’s notion that Jesus can return at “any moment”, as well as the cult’s notion that watching for Jesus to return implies that “no intervening prophetic events” can occur first. In other words, Jesus has already exposed the cult’s popular lie for the lie that it is.

Nevertheless, some additional attention will now be directed to the cult’s claim that no “signs” can precede Jesus’ second coming. That claim is often rooted in a distorted interpretation of I Cor 1:22, in which signs are supposedly promised only to the Jews, while denying them to the Gentiles. But, of course, that verse does not literally say any such thing. It only tells us what men want; it does not say what God will actually provide to either Jews or Gentiles. In fact, the Bible nowhere literally states that prophetic signs are reserved only for the Jews, and nowhere does it literally state that signs will not be given to the Gentiles.

As far as God giving signs to the Jews is concerned, Isa 7:14 says what sign He will give to Israel as a nation. Matt 13:55a, Luke 4:22b, & John 6:41-42 reveal just how much heed the Jews paid to that sign. Moreover, Jesus told the Jews what other signs they will get in Matt 12:38-40 & 16:1-4. Once again, we see how much heed they paid to that sign in Matt 28:11-15. So much for signs for the Jews. They may want a sign (Matt 27:39-42), but God has not promised to give those unbelievers any more signs than they have already received (ref: Luke 16:30-31).

The critical prophetic sign which Jesus did provide (i.e., the “abomination of desolation”) was not given to the Jews as a “race”; instead, it was given to His own disciples who believe in Him (as is plain from Mark 13:3, when compared with Matt 16:16, etc.). All those who believe Jesus’ words, and actually only those who believe His words, may profit from the knowledge of that sign, whether Jew or Gentile. (What good is a sign to those who do not even believe the words of Him who gave it?) So signs are not given exclusively to the Jews as a “race”; instead, they are given to those who believe God’s literal words, regardless of race.

So much for the cult’s “sign” arguments. Now to address the cult’s habitual violation of the rule of “context”, which is probably the tactic they rely upon the most to support their lie of an “any moment” imminence.

The favorite passage which proponents of “any moment” imminence like to take out of context is I Thess 4:13-17. After using devious devices to isolate that passage from virtually all the rest of the Bible, they assume that since this passage talks about Jesus’ second coming without referring to any related signs, it automatically follows that there are no prophetic signs at all associated with what they call the “first phase of Jesus’ second coming”. (They might also make a similar claim based on I Cor 15:51-52.)

However, in order to give the illusion of some agreement between Paul’s supposed notion of “any moment” imminence and Jesus’ doctrine on the second coming, they sometimes appeal to Jesus’ words in John 14:2-3, which they proceed to take right out of its overall context within the four Gospels. Here they make the same claim: the text neglects to mention any signs in conjunction with Jesus’ return. They conclude from that silence that there must not be any prior prophetic events which will serve as a sign of Jesus’ second coming for His own.

But, just because signs are not mentioned in every passage that discusses Jesus’ second coming does not mean that passages silent on the matter necessarily refer to an entirely different set of events from those which do mention signs in conjunction with His return.

Jesus’ lesson in John 14 was given only two days after His discourse on the Mount of Olives (Mark 14:1), so there was no need to repeat everything He had already said all over again at the Last Supper. Remember, in John 14 Jesus was talking to the same group of people that He had addressed earlier in Matthew 24; namely, His own disciples who believe in Him. It is unreasonable to suppose that Jesus was trying to confuse His disciples at this critical juncture in His ministry. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the disciples would have legitimately connected what Jesus said in John 14:3 with Jesus’ prior discussion on the Mount of Olives. In addition, we should realize by now that Paul, the ever faithful Apostle, would not have been saying anything later on to contradict what Jesus had already said (I Cor 3:11 & I Tim 6:3-5). The fact is that the second coming in Paul’s Thessalonian epistles reflects Jesus’ own words like a mirror.

With regard to Paul’s doctrine on Jesus’ second coming, one cannot argue either for or against “any moment” imminence from I Thessalonians 4 standing alone, because that passage contains absolutely no literal phraseology which either confirms or denies that concept. Arguments in either direction cannot be conclusive when based upon the silence of scripture. An “argument from silence” can never defeat an argument based on literally stated words. (The whole legal concept deciding between arguments over written contracts versus unwritten oral statements is based on that principle.) The issue of imminence can only be decided by properly integrating the words and contexts of related passages.

When Jesus’ words in John 14:3 are correctly integrated into the other Gospels, and the historical context of Paul’s words in his first & second Thessalonian epistles are correctly integrated into the rest of NT prophecy (beginning with the Gospels), it can be seen that Paul’s doctrine supports the same doctrine of the second coming which Jesus established in the Olivet discourse. Correctly integrating those related passages shows that Paul’s doctrine in I Thess 5:1-9 (which is a continuation of his exposition in I Thess 4:13-18) conforms to Jesus’ prior doctrine in Luke 17:22-37 (regarding exemption from God’s “wrath”), and Paul’s doctrine in II Thess 2:1-4 concerning the “day of Christ” conforms to Jesus’ prior doctrine in the Olivet discourse (regarding the relationship between the “abomination of desolation” and Jesus’ return for His saints). Thus, Paul’s doctrine, being identical to Jesus’ doctrine, could not possibly be advocating a proposition contrary to Jesus’ prior doctrine on “imminence” (I Cor 3:11 & 11:1).

The bottom line is that I Thess 4:13-17 does not teach “any moment” imminence. Those who claim it does, if they also claim to interpret literally, are obligated to point out the literal words where it actually says so. (Needless to say, they cannot do that.)

Unwilling to give up their false hope in lies, advocates of “any moment” imminence resort to the “looking for Jesus” argument. They claim that since we were told to watch for Jesus to return, there necessarily must not be any intervening prophetic events between now and then. As noted earlier, Jesus thoroughly demolished that erroneous supposition when he admonished us “all” to “watch” for Him to return after the “sign” of a specific event. Not only do the cult’s antagonistic arguments continue to brazenly and consistently contradict the very Highest Authority on Bible prophecy, Jesus Christ, the very Son of God Himself, but their weak spin on the “look” argument does not even make common sense. In order to look for a certain event to come to pass, it is not necessary to suppose that no other events can occur prior to the anticipated event.

We all look forward to various events as a natural course of things, but that does not preclude observing the occurrence of other events which will happen prior to them in time. For example, suppose a loved one is returning from a distant trip at a certain time. Does that mean that nothing else can happen first? Of course not. Moreover, we observe signs (e.g., the clock) to tell us about when to expect our loved one’s arrival. But our observance of signs does not detract from anticipating the arrival of our loved one; in fact, if anything, it enhances our excitement.

Applying that perfectly natural concept to Jesus’ second coming means that we may legitimately look for the passing of the abomination of desolation, as signifying the proximity of His return, without it detracting a whit from our also looking beyond that event to Jesus’ glorious second coming. Of those two events, only one holds a special place in our heart, and that one is Jesus’ second coming. After all, Jesus’ return is our supreme hope, whether we live or whether we die, because it is in His second coming, no matter how soon or how late the hour may be, that our “blessed hope” of resurrection unto eternal life in new bodies that will never die will be fulfilled (Titus 1:2, 2:13, & 3:7).

Without any further ado then, it should be obvious from proper hermeneutical analysis, as well as from common sense, that the “look” argument absolutely fails to establish the necessity, much less the veracity, of the cult’s claim for the “any moment” imminence of Jesus’ second coming.

An extension of the “look” argument holds that Paul’s use of the word “we”, in conjunction with several references to the Lord’s return (most notably in I Thess 4:15b & I Cor 15:51), implies that Paul was looking for Jesus to return at “any moment” even in his own day. But, once again, that inference does not automatically follow from the literal words of the text, and, in fact, it contradicts Paul’s own explanation of this very point in II Thess 2:1-4. What those references actually prove is that Paul was only doing what Jesus had instructed him to do; namely, Paul was looking for Jesus to return sometime within his own lifetime, even though he knew that the abomination of desolation would have to occur first. That example is the very one we are all supposed to emulate (I Cor 11:1). Verily, every day of our life we look forward to that great day to come.

On no account whatsoever does the cult of “any moment” imminence find any literal or legitimate support anywhere in the Bible. According to Jesus, signs are not incompatible with looking for His return; signs are not exclusively limited to the Jewish race; Paul did not teach a notion of “any moment” imminence, in fact he contradicted it; and, finally, common sense tells us that looking for one event does not preclude looking for prior events, including specific signs of the anticipated subsequent event.

So what is there to base the cult’s popular notion of “any moment” imminence upon? The answer is that, since there is no scripture anywhere in the Bible which literally teaches that notion, and since that notion contradicts everything the Bible does literally state, the false doctrine of an “any moment” imminent second coming must be based on nothing more than mans’ own emotionally-laden imagination coupled with an avalanche of deviously ingenious pseudo-scholarship. The cult’s lie continues to be perpetuated by its adherents with a mindset that stubbornly refuses to believe the truth of God’s literal words, no matter how plain God made them.

Conclusion

Proponents of “any moment” imminence claim to interpret Bible prophecy literally. However, they do not do what they claim to do. Instead, they play theological word games using words that are not even in the Bible, they change the meaning of words around to suit themselves, they read implications into the text which are not literally justified, they take passages out of their overall contexts, they draw improper conclusions from faulty presuppositions, and, finally, they conceal all their sloppy “scholarship” within a complicated system of obfuscation (which most cult members do not even understand). Their methodology results in an interpretation of prophecy which is the exact opposite of the literal meaning of God’s plain and simple words in the Gospels. And, having perverted the Gospels, they proceed to pervert Paul’s epistles as well, with one error leading to another, until God’s truth has been turned into a Satanic lie (Rom 1:25a).

However, when a valid hermeneutic is applied to Biblical interpretation, we find the Bible means just exactly what it plainly and literally says. What it says is that Jesus is coming soon, very soon, but not until after the sign of the abomination of desolation first comes to pass. Not only is that what Jesus said in the Gospels, but it is also what the Apostle Paul repeated in his epistles; and the two are in perfect agreement with one another on this point.

In the past there has been some misunderstanding about what the abomination of desolation really is (some called it the destruction of Jerusalem, AD 70, while others related it to the Medieval fulminations of the Roman Pope, etc.). Those suppositions, in turn, led some to believe that, since those events had already come to pass, Jesus’ return was therefore “any moment” imminent in their own day. However, in our day there is no longer any excuse for that sort of ignorance (Acts 17:30), and those mistaken ideas from the past should not be perpetuated in the present.

The truth concerning imminence and the second coming of Christ is that His coming is “imminent” right now, but only in the sense that He is going to return very soon. However (at least at the present time, AD 2007), Jesus’ second coming is not now “any moment” imminent in the sense that “He could return at any moment, maybe even today”, because the “abomination of desolation” (as defined in II Thess 2:4) has not yet come to pass. So let’s all just get back to work harvesting our Lord’s fields (John 4:35 & Prov 11:30), and patiently wait for the great “day of Christ” to come (II Thess 3:5).

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1 This article has been partially extracted from the author’s book entitled The True Resurrection (copyright 1989, 2006). However, for simplicities sake, direct quotations taken from that work have not been demarked within this article.

 

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Bible References to End Times Events 
Steven L Anderson

 

1.) When did Jesus tell his disciples the rapture would occur?

Mat 24:29  Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

Mat 24:30  And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Mat 24:31  And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Mar 13:24  But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,

Mar 13:25  And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.

Mar 13:26  And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

Mar 13:27  And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

Luk 21:25  And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

Luk 21:26  Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

Luk 21:27  And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

Luk 21:28  And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

 

2.) The Bible states repeatedly that his people will go through tribulation but not face the wrath of God.

Joh 16:33  These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Act 14:22  Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

Rom 5:3  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

Rom 8:35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Rom 12:12  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

2Co 1:4  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

2Co 7:4  Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.

1Th 3:4  For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.

Rev 1:9  I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Rev 2:9  I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

Rev 2:10  Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

Rev 7:14  And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

 

3.) Will Christ's coming in the clouds be a "secret rapture" as the pre-tribulation rapture teaches?

Rev 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

1Th 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Mar 14:62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

Mar 13:26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

Mar 13:27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

Mat 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Mat 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Act 1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

Act 1:10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

Act 1:11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

Luk 21:27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

Luk 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

 

4.) The Bible clearly teaches that the "Day of Christ" cannot happen until after the Antichrist is revealed.

2Th 2:1  Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,

2Th 2:2  That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

2Th 2:3  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

2Th 2:4  Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

2Th 2:5  Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

2Th 2:6  And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

 

5.) What is the "Day of Christ"? The "Day of Christ" is referred to 7 times in the Bible:

1Co 1:8  Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1Co 5:5  To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

2Co 1:14  As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Phi 1:6  Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

The rapture cannot occur until the day of Christ since that is when the good work of sanctification he began in us will be complete, and we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Phi 1:10  That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

Phi 2:16  Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

2Th 2:2  That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

 

6.) Jesus' Coming will not be as a thief in the night to those who are saved.

1Th 5:1  But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.

1Th 5:2  For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

1Th 5:3  For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

1Th 5:4  But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

1Th 5:5  Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

1Th 5:6  Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

 

7.) Where did Jesus or anyone in the Bible say the rapture would happen before the tribulation?

 

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Pre-Tribulation Rapture Arguments Debunked
Steven Anderson

 

Can you answer these questions?

1. The pre-tribber says…“The Olivet Discourse is talking to the Jews.” (i.e. Matt 24, Mark 13, & Luke 21)

Really? Can you prove that?

This is what Jesus said at the end of the Olivet Discourse:

Mark 13:37 “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”

The only reason pre-tribbers want to believe that the Olivet Discourse is “only talking to the Jews” is to explain away these key verses:

Matt 24:29-31Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

2. The pre-tribber says… “The elect is talking about Israel, not Christians.”

Really? Then explain this verse:

Rom 11:7 “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded”

How can “the election” or “the elect” be Israel in light of this verse? The term “elect” is used in the New Testament to denote ONLY those who are saved, whether they be Jew or Gentile.

3. The pre-tribber says… “The rapture can happen at any moment because Jesus said that no man knoweth the day nor the hour. The rapture could happen right now!”

Really? Where did Jesus say that? You’re not sure? Let me help you…he said it in the Olivet Discourse:

Matt 24:36 “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”

Mark 13:32 “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”

In fact, that’s the ONLY place he said it. But I thought you pre-tribbers think that the Olivet Discourse is only talking to the Jews? Didn’t you say it was not about the rapture? Is it about the rapture or not? If not, then why are you using this verse to say that no man knoweth the day nor the hour of the rapture? If it is about the rapture, then you will have to deal with these verses:

Matt 24:29-31Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

Have you decided yet? Maybe these verses will help:

Matt 24:40-42 “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”

These verses are OBVIOUSLY referring to the rapture.

4. The pre-tribber says… “There are no signs leading up to the rapture! It could happen at any time!”

Really? Do you have scripture for that?

Why did Jesus then tell us to watch? Watch for what?

Matt 24:42 “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”

Matt 24:33 “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.”

Luke 21:31 “So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.”

5. The pre-tribber says… “Jesus will come in the rapture as a thief in the night!”

Really? Where does the Bible say that? Let’s look at it together:

1Thess 5:1-2 “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.”

But let’s keep reading…

1Thess 5:3-6 “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”

6. The pre-tribber says… “The rapture must be before the tribulation because God has not appointed us to wrath (1 Thess 5:9). God has always delivered his people before he poured out his judgment (e.g. Noah, Lot, etc.).

God’s wrath will not be poured out until after the tribulation!

Read these scriptures:

Matt 24:29Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:”

So the sun and moon will be darkened after the tribulation.

Rev 6:12-17 “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;” And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”

God’s wrath does not come until after the tribulation. The great day of his wrath (i.e. the Day of the Lord) comes after the opening of the sixth seal. The rapture takes place the same day, just before God pours out his wrath.

Matt 24:29-31 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”