This first word on our list, PAROUSIA, is the one most
commonly used in reference to the "first stage" of the second
advent or Rapture as opposed to the words APOKALUPSIS
or EPIPHANEIA which are supposed to refer to the "second
stage" of the second advent or coming of the Lord. PAROUSIA
stresses the actual personal presence of one that has come and arrived.
There is nothing in this word to convey the idea of secrecy. Paul, for
example, was comforted by the "coming (PAROUSIA)
of Titus" who brought word to him from the Corinthian Christians.
(II Cor. 7:6) Likewise he spoke of the "coming (PAROUSIA)
of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus." (I Cor. 16:17) In writing
to the Philippians, Paul said he would be "coming (PAROUSIA)
to see them again." (Phil. 1:26)
Paul used this word in the noted "Rapture" chapter which
speaks of the "coming (PAROUSIA) of the Lord"
when the dead in Christ will be raised and believers will be caught
up to meet the Lord in the air (I Thess. 4:15-17). But was the PAROUSIA
here to be a Pre-Tribulational coming? No! Turning to Paul's second
letter to the Thessalonian believers, Paul again wrote about "the
coming (PAROUSIA) of our Lord" and "our gathering
together unto Him." (II Thess. 2:1) Here he explained that the
"PAROUSIA" will not take place until AFTER
THE MAN OF SIN IS REVEALED AND HAS CARRIED OUT HIS EVIL WORK: "The
Lord shall destroy (the man of sin) with the brightness of His coming
(PAROUSIA)." (II Thess. 2:8)
According to this, the coming (PAROUSIA) of the Lord,
the Resurrection and the Rapture, will come AFTER the reign of
the man of sin - NOT BEFORE.
In II Peter 3, we find more proof that the "PAROUSIA"
is not a secret coming that will take place BEFORE our Lord's
coming in flaming fire and glory. According to Peter, "the promise
of His coming (PAROUSIA)" will be fulfilled when
"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 heart" (verses 11 and 12). The word "PAROUSIA"
in these places obviously cannot refer to a secret rapture seven years
before the end because it speaks of the earth as we know it being destroyed,
which would be impossible if one supposes that the earth is to continue
on for seven more years AFTER His Parousia.
Instead of the Rapture being a secret and invisible coming to be followed
later by the Revelation, an open and visible coming, the Scriptures
show that the Rapture and the Revelation are one and the same event
- not two.
The word that is translated "revelation" in connection with
Christ's return is APOKALUPSIS, which stresses appearing,
revelation. Notice its use in II Thess. 1:7-10: "The Lord Jesus
shall be REVEALED (APOKALUPSIS) from heaven with
His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know
not God ... when He shall come to be glorified in His saints."
According to this, the time when Christ is REVEALED in flaming
fire is also the time when He comes to be glorified in His saints. If
the Rapture had taken place seven years before this, the saints would
have already been glorified.
Peter also spoke of the revelation of Christ in I Peter 1:13: "Wherefore
gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the
grace that is to be brought unto you at the REVELATION (APOKALUPSIS)
of Jesus Christ." Again, it is evident that the Rapture is not
an earlier event to take place seven years before the "Revelation."
If this had been the case, these instructions about being sober and
hoping until the REVELATION (Apokalupsis) of Christ would
be meaningless. It would not be necessary for believers to hope to the
end for the grace to be brought to them if they had already been raptured
(Parousia) seven years earlier.
Likewise in verse 7, Peter spoke of Christians as being "found
unto praise and honor and glory at the APPEARING (the revelation,
same word, APOKALUPSIS) of Jesus Christ." But according
to the Secret Rapture position, Christians will have already been taken
to heaven and judged BEFORE the REVELATION. This is not
what the Bible says. Christians are pointed to the appearing or REVELATION
of Christ, a fact which clearly indicates that the Rapture IS the Revelation.
We learn from these verses that the APOKALUPSIS - the
REVELATION - is when Christians will be gathered; this is when
they will meet the Lord; this is the day for which they are waiting.
The Rapture is NOT one event and the Revelation a different event.
Instead of two phases being "clearly distinguished in the Greek"
by the terms PAROUSIA and APOKALUPSIS, a
study of these words and the context in which they are used reveals
no such distinction whatsoever. To the contrary, both are used in a
way that points us to ONE event, the Second Coming of Christ
at the end of the age.
Instead of the Greek terms indicating two second comings, just the
opposite is the case. This should be carefully noted. We know that the
PAROUSIA is the SAME event as the APOKALUPSIS
(Revelation), not only by the actual context in which these words are
used (as we have seen), but by the way they are used INTERCHANGEABLY.
In Matthew 24:37, for example, we read: "But as the days of Noah
were, so shall also the coming (PAROUSIA) of the Son of
Man be." Luke's account of the SAME passage says, "As
it was in the days of Noah ... even thus shall it be in the day when
the Son of Man is REVEALED (APOKALUPSIS)"
(Luke 17:26, 30). This shows us that the COMING (PAROUSIA)
of Christ and the REVELATION (APOKALUPSIS) of Christ
are the same event.
Another word used in describing the return of Christ is EPIPHANEIA,
meaning "manifestation" and the glory that will attend our
Lord when He comes and which, like the word APOKALUPSIS,
has been used by Pre-Tribulationalists to mean the "second stage"
of the Second Advent. This word is not applied to a secret, Pre-Tribulational
coming, for Christ will slay the man of sin with "the BRIGHTNESS
(EPIPHANEIA) of His coming." (II Thess. 2:8)
Bearing this in mind, let us look at I Timothy 6:14, 15, in which
this same word appears: "... keep this commandment without spot,
unrebukeable, unto the APPEARING (EPIPHANEIA) of
our Lord Jesus Christ; which in His times He shall shew, who is the
blessed and the only Potentate, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords."
Now we ask: why would Christians be exhorted to keep the commandment
until the EPIPHANEIA - the glorious appearing - if seven
years before this there was to be a hidden, secret coming to take the
Church out of the world? The EPIPHANEIA is when the man
of sin is slain, it is when Christ comes in OPEN GLORY AND POWER,
and it is until this time that Christians are exhorted to remain faithful.
Such instructions would be completely out of place if Christians were
to be raptured several years before the EPIPHANEIA.
The fourth word on our list is PHANEROO, meaning "to
render apparent" - which also refers to Christ's coming in open
power and glory. "When the Chief Shepherd shall APPEAR (PHANEROO),
ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." (I Peter
5:4) This verse does not say that when the Chief Shepherd shall appear
- rendered apparent - that Christians will have ALREADY been
raptured and crowned. No! The rewarding is when Christ shall APPEAR,
and not at a supposed invisible coming seven years before.
John, like Peter, makes the same point: "We know that when He
shall APPEAR (PHANEROO), we shall be like Him;
for we shall see Him as He is." (I John 3:2) As Christians, it
is when Christ shall come and APPEAR - be rendered apparent -
that we shall be like Him, not at a supposed invisible coming.
Looking to Matthew 24 again, we find that PAROUSIA is
used to describe the SAME event as ERCHOMAI. "But
as the days of Noah were, so shall also the COMING (PAROUSIA)
of the Son of Man be ... Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an
hour as ye think not, the Son of Man COMETH (ERCHOMAI)."
(Matt. 24:37, 44)
ERCHOMAI, in turn, is used to describe the SAME
event as HEKO, for in Hebrew 10:37, we read; "For
yet a little while, and He that shall COME (ERCHOMAI)
will COME (HEKO), and will not tarry." Note
again, as in the case of APOKALUPSIS and EPIPHANEIA,
the way these words are all used inter-changeably.
HEKO and PAROUSIA are used together by
Peter. In answer to the question: "Where is the promise of His
COMING (PAROUSIA)?" Peter answers: "The
day of the Lord will COME (HEKO) as a thief in
the night." (II Peter 3:10)
The word PAROUSIA and EPIPHANEIA are linked
together in II Thess. 2:8, in which we read that the man of sin will
be destroyed by the BRIGHTNESS (EPIPHANEIA) of
Christ's COMING (PAROUSIA).
And finally, we noticed that the PAROUSIA is also the
PHANEROO, for both expressions are used in the SAME
verse, referring to the SAME event: "And now, little children,
abide in Him, that when He shall APPEAR (PHANEROO),
we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His COMING
(PAROUSIA)." (I John 2:28)
Thus, we see that ALL of these Greek words are used INTER-CHANGEABLY.
As in English, the different words present varied shades of meaning.
But trying to split the Second Coming of Christ into "two stages"
or "comings" on a supposed distinction in these Greek terms
is completely artificial.
PART 4: COMING "FOR" AND
COMNG "WITH THE SAINTS
According to the Pre-Tribulational interpretation, Christ will come
in a secret rapture "FOR" His saints, take them to
heaven for seven years (or, as in the case of the Mid-Tribulational
Rapture, 3 1/2 years), and then come "WITH" the saints.
The argument is, of course, that since He will come WITH His
saints, He will have to come at an earlier time FOR the saints.
But let us take a closer look at this argument. First of all, does the
Bible anywhere use the expression "coming FOR the saints?"
Repeatedly, we have heard statements like this: "Jesus is coming
back FOR His Church without spot and wrinkle," or "Soon
Jesus will return FOR His Church to take it our of this world,"
or "The Lord comes in the Rapture FOR His Church; after
the Tribulation period, He comes with His Church," etc. But the
fact is, the Bible never uses the expression, "coming FOR
the saints." NEVER! Surely, then, an interpretation that
continually uses an expression that the Bible never uses should be subjected
to close examination. Once a person has the concept in mind that there
will be a special coming of Christ FOR the Church, he then reads
about believers being "caught up" and immediately concludes
that they will be caught up to heaven. This is not what the passage
says at all.
The Rapture passage, I Thess. 4:16-17, says that believers will be
"caught up ... in the clouds to meet the Lord." The place
of meeting will be just above the earth - in the clouds, in the air.
These verses explain WHERE believers will meet the Lord. The
place of meeting will be in the clouds, in the air. There is nothing
in these verses to indicate that Christ will then turn around and take
the Church back to heaven for seven years.
Notice that believers will rise to MEET the Lord. The word that
is here translated MEET is a word that was used in reference
to the coming of a king or governor to visit a city. As he approached,
the citizens would go out to meet him and then escort him on the last
part of his journey into the city; the word that is here translated
MEET has precisely the same meaning here. As the Lord descends
from heaven, believers will rise to MEET the Lord in the air
in order to come WITH Him as He CONTINUES to earth.
THE USE OF THE WORD "APANTESIS" (MEET)
The word MEET in this verse is APANTESIS. It is
used in two other passages which we will now consider to see exactly
how this word is used in the Scriptures.
The parable of the five wise and the five foolish virgins
Matthew 25:1-6: "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened
unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to MEET
the Bridegroom ... And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the
Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to MEET Him." In this parable
the five wise and the five foolish virgins were to take their lamps
and go out to MEET the Bridegroom. What for? To have Him turn
around and take them back to where He had come from? No! If this had
been the case, He would have been coming to meet THEM, instead
of them going out to meet HIM.
The plain and simple truth is that when the Bridegroom approached,
they went out to meet Him so as to escort him back to where they had
been waiting to the place where the marriage was to be held. They went
out to MEET Him, and after meeting Him, they returned "WITH
Him." Notice here how the word MEET was used.
Paul's Journey to Rome
Acts 28:14-16: "And so we went toward Rome. And from thence,
when the brethren heard of us, they came to MEET us as far as
Appii Forum and the Three Taverns ... And then we came (continued on)
to Rome ..." Here the same point is seen. As Paul journeyed to
Rome, certain brethren came out to meet him and then accompany him as
he entered the city. It does not say that Paul got almost to Rome and
then after meeting these brethren, took them back to where he had been.
No, he continued on to Rome with them.
Let us suppose these men who met Paul had explained to the others
where they were going: "We have heard that Paul is coming to our
city; and we are going out to MEET him and will come WITH
him." Would any have understood this to mean that they would meet
Paul, go back to where Paul had come from, spend several years there
with him and then return once again with Paul to Rome? No. None would
ever get such a meaning. Yet, this is exactly the kind of "proof"
that is offered for the idea of two second comings. We are told that
since the saints will come WITH Christ, that in going out to
MEET Him, they must be taken back to where He was, then wait
several years so as to come WITH Him! NONSENSE! In the
Scriptural examples, people went out to MEET someone and escort
that person to the place where he was going. In a modern context, it
would not be unlike going out to the curb to meet your grandparents
who had traveled a long way in their car to be with you, hug and kiss
them, collect their luggage and escort them back into the house. In
no case are two stages, or two comings, implied by this word. There
is no room for a period of seven years between the going out to MEET
the one that is coming and the coming WITH him as He continues
on to His destination.
Seeing, then, how the word MEET is used in the Scriptures, we
understand that when Christ comes, believers will be "caught up
... to meet the Lord in the air" and from there will descend "with
Him." So, the fact that the Lord will come WITH the saints
(after they rise to MEET Him) does not in any way require two
separate second comings of Christ. As Wilber Smith writes in Tribulation
or Rapture - Which?: "That theory must be deliberately read
into the passage. We might go through all the writers of the New Testament
and we would still fail to discover any indication of the so-called
'two stages' of our Lord's coming."
One final New Testament reference remains to be considered in which
we read of Christ's coming with the saints. Paul exhorted the Thessalonians:
"Increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all
men (so that the Lord) may establish your heart unblamable in holiness
before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
WITH ALL His saints." (I Thess. 3:12-13)
We need only to notice this passage briefly, for it is doubtful that
any would attempt to use this verse as a proof text for the idea of
a coming for the saints as contrasted to a coming WITH the saints
at a later date. There are several reasons for this. The word that is
translated COMING in this verse is PAROUSIA - a
word which Pre-Tribulationalists commonly say refers to a "secret"
rapture - a coming FOR the saints - whereas in this verse we
read of His coming (PAROUSIA) "with all the saints."
Instead of teaching two second comings of Christ, if anything, this
verse would indicate that the PAROUSIA is the coming of
Christ WITH His saints.
Paul is obviously not speaking of a coming of Christ WITH all
the saints as contrasted to an earlier coming FOR the saints,
for if there was to be an earlier coming, why would he put stress on
their being established in holiness at the coming of Christ WITH
all His saints? Surely he would have mentioned the earlier coming if
any such existed. The meaning intended in this passage is simply that
Paul desired the Thessalonians to be established in the faith and be
found unblamable at the Second Coming - along with all the other saints
- those at Corinth, Colossi, Ephesus and all other believers everywhere.
PART 5: AN EXAMINATION OF
PRE-TRIBULATIONAL "PROOF TEXTS"
We shall now examine the so-called "proofs" or "proof
texts" that are commonly used in support of the Pre-Tribulational
THE "ABSENCE" OF THE WORD
"CHURCH" IN REVELATION 4-18
First, Revelation 4:1: "After this I (John) looked, and behold
a door opened in heaven" and the first voice which I heard was
as it were a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and
I will shew thee things which must be hereafter."
Now, since chapters 4-18 do not mention the word "CHURCH,"
this is taken as proof that the Church will be absent from the earth
during this time. The verse that follows the third chapter (Rev. 4:1)
tells how John in a vision was taken up to heaven and saw certain things.
John is used as a TYPE of the Church and this verse is taken
to mean that the chapters that follow describe things which will take
place "after" the Church is gone! But trying to apply Revelation
4:1 to the Rapture is based only on ASSUMPTIONS, not plain statements.
It is ASSUMED that John himself is a type of the Church, for
it is taught that his being caught up to heaven pictures the Rapture
of the Church. And, finally, it is ASSUMED that since John saw
things which would be "hereafter," that this means after the
Church is gone. But now, step by step, we will take a closer look at
It is claimed that since the word CHURCH does not appear in
Revelation, chapters 4-18, we are to understand that the Church is absent
from the earth during this time; not coming into the picture again until
chapter 19, in which we read of the marriage supper and the coming of
Christ as King of Kings.
But if the mere absence of the word CHURCH can prove that the
Church is absent in chapters 4-18, we would have to conclude that the
Church is also absent in chapter 19 too, for the word CHURCH
appears NOWHERE in the entire chapter. Nor does the word appear
in chapter 20. It is not even found in chapter 21. Would any contend
that the Church is absent in these chapters? It is not until the last
chapter of Revelation that we find the term CHURCH used again,
and then only in a closing remark: "I Jesus have sent mine angel
to testify unto you these things in the churches." (Rev. 22:16)
The Church is not mentioned in chapters 4-18, we are told, and this
is taken as proof that the Church is IN HEAVEN during this time.
What? If the Church is not mentioned, how could this prove that it is
in heaven? Since the Church is clearly on earth in chapters two and
three, and since it is not expressly referred to as being in the heavens
during the chapters that follow, the more natural inference would be
that it is still ON EARTH during these chapters. One thing is
sure: if the Church is not mentioned in these chapters, that is no proof
it is in heaven during this time.
We are told that the Church is not mentioned in the chapters after
Revelation 3:22. But technically, the Church (as a whole) is not mentioned
in the chapters BEFORE Revelation 3:22. Instead, all of the references
are to local assemblies, local churches in Asia, each being a part of
the great universal Church of Jesus Christ. Here are the facts: the
words CHURCH (singular) and CHURCHES (plural) occur 19
times in Revelation 1-3. The four references in Revelation 1 are about
"the seven churches in Asia." The word CHURCH is used
in each of the addresses to the seven churches: "To the angel of
the church in Ephesus," etc., and at the conclusion of each of
the letters: "Hear ... what the Spirit saith to the churches."
"To all the churches," refers to all seven of the churches
mentioned. Thus, the word CHURCH is never used in any of these
chapters as referring to the Church in its totality. This is significant.
While it is true the word CHURCH does not appear after Revelation
3, until the last part of Revelation, it is, however, obvious that the
Church is definitely referred to by other terms that are used in these
chapters. Take Revelation 13:7, for example: "And it was given
unto him (the beast) to make war on the SAINTS." Is not
this a clear reference to the Church? Revelation 13:10 mentions the
"patience and faith of the SAINTS - patience and faith in
the midst of persecution! The SAINTS are again mentioned in Revelation
16:6. In Revelation 17, we read about the Babylonian woman "drunken
with the blood of the SAINTS (18:24)." Here, then, are several
references to the SAINTS; that is, those that make up the Church.
Ah, but those who believe that the Rapture is pictured in Revelation
4:1, commonly teach that the SAINTS in these chapters are not
CHURCH SAINTS, but TRIBULATION SAINTS - people that are
not part of the Church whatsoever! Yet, when we find the word SAINTS
in connection with the marriage supper of the Lamb in Revelation 19,
then we are told that this refers to the CHURCH SAINTS. Notice
the passage: "The marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath
made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed
in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness
of the SAINTS." The Scofield footnote says: "The Lamb's
wife here is the Bride, the Church." So, it is agreed the saints
here are CHURCH SAINTS. How can some rightly argue that the saints
mentioned in the chapter before (Revelation 18), the chapter before
that (Revelation 17), the chapter before that (Revelation 16), and Revelation
13 are different kinds of saints? By such arbitrary methods of interpretation,
ANYTHING could be proved from the Bible.
JOHN AS A "TYPE" OF THE
CHURCH IN REVELATION 4:1
Assuming that the churches of Revelation 2 and 3 represent seven church
ages, a position generally accepted by Bible scholars, coupled with
the idea that the word CHURCH does not appear in certain chapters
that follow, Revelation 4:1 is then taken as a reference to the Rapture
- ASSUMING that John is a type of the Church. But let us look
at this verse again: "After this I (John) looked, and behold, a
door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as
it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and
I will shew thee things which must be hereafter." Though this verse
was plainly a message to John, many Pre-Tribulational writers feel this
verse CLEARLY refers to the Rapture.
Scofield, for example, says: "This call seems CLEARLY to
indicate the fulfillment of I Thess. 4:14-17 (the Rapture). The word
CHURCH does not again occur in the Revelation till all is fulfilled."
DeHann says: "This brief passage from Revelation is one of the
shortest, yet one of the clearest pictures in Scripture of the Rapture
of the Church" (35 Simple Studies of the Major Themes in Revelation,
But this verse is not talking about the Rapture, it is not talking
about the Church, it is talking about John! It was John who was - in
spirit - taken into the heavenly realm and saw various things which
would come to pass. John being thus taken up does not prove we should
look for the Church in heaven any more than being taken in the spirit
into the wilderness to "Babylon" would prove that the Church
was there. (Rev. 17:3-5)
Those who claim to "clearly" see a Pre-Tribulational Rapture
of the Church in this verse must ASSUME (among other things)
that John is a type of the Church. But John could not be a consistent
type of the Church in heaven during this period, for sometimes he is
represented as being back on EARTH. In Revelation 10:1 and also
18:1, for example, he sees an angel "come (not go) DOWN
from heaven" - wording which apparently does not symbolize something
in heaven, for it is pictured as having a court which is given to the
Gentiles to tread down, unless one supposes that unsaved Gentiles have
broken into heaven and are trampling down the heavenly temple - which
is clearly an absurdity. This, then, would place him below heaven in
this scene. In Revelation 13:1, John is standing upon the sand of the
sea, and a beast rising up out of the water appears, etc. John is sometimes
pictured as being in heaven and sometimes on earth. He cannot, therefore,
be a consistent representation of the Church in heaven during these
THE USE OF THE WORDS "COME
UP HITHER" IN REVELATION 4:1
Adding to the foregoing Pre-Tribulational teachings (that the word
CHURCH does not appear after Revelation 3, and that John is representative
of the Church being taken up to heaven in Revelation 4:1), a final point
is made in the attempt to establish a Pre-Tribulational Rapture from
the verse under consideration. We are told that when the voice spoke
to John and said: "Come up hither, and I will shew thee things
which must be HEREAFTER," that the expression HEREAFTER
means after the Church has been raptured to heaven. But the fact is,
the SAME words in Greek - META TAUTA - that are
translated HEREAFTER at the end of this verse, are exactly the
same words that are rendered AFTER THIS at the beginning of the
verse. The verse begins and ends with the same identical phrase in the
original. Is it not inconsistent, then, to attempt to make it mean "after
the Church" in one instance and not in the other? And to make it
mean "after the Church" in both instances would be contradictory.
The normal reading of the passage is simply that John had received
specific messages to the seven churches of Asia, after this, he heard
a voice saying he would be shown things which would be hereafter - that
is, he would be shown events that were THEN FUTURE. It is inexcusable
to try to make it mean anything more than this, for this same expression
was commonly used by John. META TAUTA, though translated
in various ways into English, appears in the following verses in John's
writings: "hereafter" (John 13:7; Rev. 1:19; 4:1; 9;12); "after
these things" (John 3:22; 6:1; 7:1; Rev. 7:1; 18:1; 19:1); "afterward"
(John 5:14); "After that" (Rev. 15:5; 20:3); "after this"
(John 5:1; Rev. 4:1). To try to force a meaning upon the expression
in one instance that is completely unheard of and unrelated to the use
of the word in other parts of John's writings is very unsound.
THE CHURCH IN PHILADELPHIA
Another Pre-Tribulational "proof text" is found in the words
of Jesus to the Church in Philadelphia: "Because thou hast kept
the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation,
which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the
earth." (Rev. 3:10) It is ASSUMED that since these are to
be kept from the hour of temptation, that this means that they will
be raptured CLEAR OUT OF THE WORLD in order for this to be fulfilled.
But again, the text does not say this.
The actual Church in Philadelphia - Primary Example
Let us consider this verse in its PRIMARY application - as
it pertained to the Church in Philadelphia, located in Asia Minor, in
the First Century. Was this church kept from a worldwide time of temptation?
As sure as the promise was given, they were! But how were they kept?
By being raptured to heaven? There is nothing to infer this and by any
reckoning of the historical facts, they were not. They were kept by
the POWER AND GRACE OF GOD.
The Church in Philadelphia as Representative of a "Church Age"
Let us consider Revelation 3:10 as it would apply to the teaching
that the seven churches in Asia represent several church ages. In this
case, the passage again falls short of proving there will be an ESCAPE
RAPTURE from the Tribulation during the last days of this age. Had
this been the case, Revelation 3:10 should have been given to the LAST
church of the seven. But the promise of being "kept from the hour
of temptation" was addressed to the SIXTH church, not the
SEVENTH. and to say, as some do, that in the last days the last
several churches or church ages will coincide simultaneously does little
to truly alleviate the problem here.
Here again, we see inconsistency in the Secret Rapture teaching. When
it is being stressed that Revelation 4:1 teaches the Secret Rapture,
we are taught (correctly we believe) that the seven churches represent
seven SUCCESSIVE ages of the Church, and that the last church
age, THE SEVENTH, will end with the Rapture. Then later, when
commenting on Revelation 3:10, this is contradicted by saying that the
message to the SIXTH church refers to an ESCAPE for the
Church at the end of the age - as though the SIXTH church was
the LAST church. In other words, when commenting on Revelation
4:1, the Church ages are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Then later, in order to
apply Revelation 3:10 to a Pre-Tribulational Rapture, the age would
have to be twisted around like this: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 6 or at least,
the last two ages very ARBITRARILY merged together (as noted
in the Scofield Reference Bible).
Now since the Church in any century should be able to benefit from
the letters to the seven churches, let us view Revelation 3:10 as setting
forth truth which could apply to the churches in any century in which
the same conditions might exist. This will be a more GENERAL
God's Keeping Power from Temptation
It is a recognized method of Biblical interpretation to consider other
verses that might shed light on a subject. We will apply this rule here
and compare a verse that ALSO contains the WORDS OF JESUS
and one that was recorded by the SAME DISCIPLE. In BOTH
verses we will find basically the SAME type of promise. But in
the one - and this is significant - it is plainly shown that believers
can be kept from the temptation or evil of this world WITHOUT
being taken out of the world. We ask the reader to carefully compare
the following passages:
"Because thou hast KEPT the WORD of my patience,
I also will KEEP thee from the hour of TEMPTATION, which
shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."
"They have KEPT thy WORD ... I pray not that
thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest
KEEP them from the EVIL" (John 17:6, 15)
In both passages, the people referred to have kept the word. And because
they have kept the word, God will "keep them." In the one
passage, they are kept from the hour of temptation; in the other, they
are kept from the evil. The fact that they are kept from temptation
in the one verse and kept from evil in the other, does not materially
change the meaning involved, for evil and temptation are very closely
related words. Jesus, for example, taught the disciples to pray: "And
lead us not into TEMPTATION, but deliver us from EVIL."
(Matt. 6:13) If we are kept from temptation, then surely we are kept
from evil. The two go hand in hand.
Both of the passages that we are comparing use the expression "keep
from" in English, and in Greek, both use the same basic words.
In both instances believers are "kept from" evil or temptation,
the one expressly explains that this would be accomplished WITHOUT
their being taken out of the world - the exact opposite of the Secret
If it is possible to be in the world and yet be "kept from"
the evil of the world, is it possible to be "kept from" the
hour of temptation WITHOUT being taken out of the world? Surely!
Revelation 3:10 speaks about being kept from the hour of temptation
"which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon
the earth." Paul also spoke of temptation as being common to all
men - but with a special promise to the believer: "There hath no
temptation taken you but such as is common to man, but God ... will
not suffer you (i.e., the believer) to be TEMPTED above that
ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way of ESCAPE
that ye may be able to bear it." (I Cor. 10:13)
Here, then, is another reference about mankind's being tempted, but
He promises that through Christ we can be kept from falling into temptation.
Other verses also speak of God's KEEPING power, but none imply
a rapture out of this world. Jabez prayed: "KEEP me from
evil ... and God granted him that which he requested." (I Chron.
And we, today, can also be "KEPT" by the power of
God through faith unto salvation," (I Peter 1:5) "for God
... is able to keep you from falling." (Jude 2:4, etc.) Thus, by
a study of the key words in the text under consideration, we find that
believers can be "kept from" the world's evil or temptation,
can "be delivered out of temptation;" can find "a way
of escape," without being taken out of this world.
Some attempt to teach that the Church will be taken out of the world
because Revelation 3:10 mentions temptation that will "try them
that DWELL upon the earth." It is taught that those who
"dwell" upon the earth are those who choose earth as a PERMANENT
abode, as compared to the Christians who have spiritual objectives.
But this conclusion will not stand up, for in the original, the same
word is used in describing our Lord as DWELLING in Capernaum
(Matt. 4:13)! None suppose that Jesus felt that Capernaum was His permanent
The three applications we have made of Revelation 3:10, summed up,
are as follows:
Applied SPECIFICALLY to the Philadelphian Church in Asia
of the First Century, it (i.e., the Rapture) would have had its
fulfillment while those people were still living, a conclusion that
no Bible scholar anywhere at anytime has ever reached.
Applied to the seven church AGES, it falls short of reaching
the last church age, which should be the SEVENTH, for the
Philadelphian Church was the SIXTH in the succession, not
the SEVENTH or last.
Applied as a GENERAL truth for the Church in any century,
it could not be limited to people living just prior to the last
seven years, but would be a promise of God's KEEPING POWER
in any hour of temptation.
THE USE OF THE WORD "ESCAPE" IN LUKE 21, ETC.
One more text should be noticed here: "Watch ye therefore and
pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to ESCAPE all these
things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."
It is true that this verse speaks of ESCAPE, but it says nothing
about the Church being taken to heaven in a Secret Rapture in order
for this escape to be accomplished! This should be especially noticed,
for this is the very thing that some have attempted to read into this
In this verse, Jesus said to His disciples: "PRAY always
that ye may be accounted worthy to escape ..." How? By a Secret
Rapture to take them to heaven seven years before the end of the age?
Apparently not! For in the prayer, we read: "I PRAY NOT
that thou shouldest take them OUT OF THE WORLD, but that thou
shouldest keep them from the evil." (John 17:15) Would Jesus pray
one way and then tell His disciples to pray another way? Surely this
would be contradictory.
With what is this word ESCAPE to be connected? Is it a reference
to escaping the Tribulation of the last seven years of this age? It
does not say so. A look at the context shows that the reference is to
THAT DAY, the time believers shall be gathered to meet Christ
in the air and destruction shall fall upon the world - the end of this
"Heaven and earth shall pass away (the end of this age) ... take
heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with
surfeiting, and drunkenness, and the CARES OF THIS LIFE, and
so THAT DAY come upon you unawares." (Luke 21:33-34) Obviously,
it could not come upon them unawares if they were to be raptured out
seven years before the end of the age! "For as a snare shall it
come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye
therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape
all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son
of Man." (Luke 21:34-36)
Notice that this passage also mentions THAT DAY. It will bring
"sudden destruction" upon unbelievers "and they shall
NOT ESCAPE." However, there will be those who will ESCAPE
that sudden destruction - those who are sober, spiritually awake, and
watching for the return of Christ.
Matthew's account (a parallel to Luke 21) also mentions THAT DAY
and that we must WATCH, for the time of this event is unrevealed.
"For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating
and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage ... and knew not until
the flood came and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the
Son of Man be." (Matt. 24:38-39)
When God's destruction fell upon the world in Noah's day, those who
heeded God's message ESCAPED - they were not destroyed with the
unbelieving world. According to the Scriptures, destruction shall again
fall on the earth, this time by fire - and again those who have heeded
God's message shall ESCAPE and not be destroyed with the unbelieving
world. Whether we think of the end that came in Noah's day or the end
that shall come upon this world at Christ's return, in neither event
is it a case of the righteous escaping from the tribulation, but from
the DESTRUCTION that brings the end.
We have, then, the words recorded in Luke, in Matthew, and by the Apostle
Paul regarding THAT DAY. All speak of the uncertainty of the
time. Luke records that it will come "as a snare." Matthew
likens it to the days of Noah when "they knew not until the flood
came" and destruction fell upon the world. And Paul says it will
come "as a thief in the night," a time when men will be saying
"peace and safety" - not expecting sudden destruction.
All three of these passages give warnings against the eating and drinking
which would result in a condition of unconcern and spiritual neglect.
Luke speaks of "surfeiting and drunkenness." Matthew speaks
of "eating and drinking" and Paul's words exhort us to be
sober and not drunken.
All three of the passages show that the time referred to by the term
THAT DAY is the end of the age. Matthew and Luke both use the
expression "heaven and earth shall pass away" in this connection,
while Paul speaks of it as the time when "sudden destruction"
shall fall upon the wicked.
Each passage indicates that those who believe will escape the destruction.
Luke's account speaks of praying to "escape these things."
Matthew's account likens it to the days when Noah escaped the destruction
of the flood, and Paul says the wicked "shall not escape,"
which implies that there will be an escape for those that are not wicked.
So, looking at Luke 21:36 again, we find that an ESCAPE is taught
- but the reference is to THAT DAY when SUDDEN DESTRUCTION
shall fall upon the world. There is nothing in this text about escaping
from the Tribulation by escaping out of this world by means of a Secret
Rapture. Those who are truly devoted to Christ shall escape all these
things - the neglect, the over indulgence in eating and drinking - and
"having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust"
(II Peter 1:4), here and now, they shall also escape the fiery sudden
destruction which shall bring an end to this age.
PART 6: WILL CHRIST COME AT ANY MOMENT?
TERMS USED INTERCHANGEABLY
OTHER RAPTURE VIEWS
WILL CHRIST COME AT ANY MOMENT
Did the early Christians believe that the Rapture could occur at any
moment" Or did they believe that there were certain things that
would be fulfilled first?
Events That Must Precede the Second Coming
We believe there is conclusive proof in the New Testament that the
early Church did NOT hold the "Any-Moment" Theory.
Jesus pointed out that no man knows the time of His return and that
we should live a life of watchfulness and obedience at all times (Matt.
24:36, 42-51, etc.). However, Jesus Himself taught that certain things
would happen first.
When Jesus told His disciples of the Second Coming, He was still with
them in PERSON. It is evident that the ASCENSION had to
precede the RETURN. And before His ascension, of course, CALVARY
had to have its fulfillment. Jesus likened His Second Coming to lightening
and said, "But FIRST must He suffer many things, and be
rejected of this generation." (Luke 17:25)
The Gift of the Holy Spirit
Jesus told His disciples that after His ascension, He would send the
Holy Spirit. They would be endued with spiritual power to be witnesses
unto Him. (Acts 1:8) These things were to take place BEFORE Christ
would come again. Thus, prior to Pentecost, we see the disciples awaiting,
not the coming of Christ (in His Second Advent), but the coming of the
Holy Spirit - even as Jesus had promised.
The Preaching of the Gospel to All the World
Then, being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, the disciples
were to go into all the world and teach all nations. (Matt. 28:19, 20;
Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8) Time had to be allowed for travel, preaching,
baptizing, instructing converts, etc. Surely, Christ was not going to
return before they would even have time to get properly started on what
He had commissioned them to do!
The Destruction of the Temple
Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and told His disciples:
"When ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the
desolation thereof is nigh." (Luke 21:21) At the Second Coming,
there will be no need for Christians to flee into the mountains, for
they shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air! The destruction
of Jerusalem, then, was to be an event which would take place before
the SECOND COMING OF CHRIST.
The Death of Peter
Jesus also explained that Peter would grow old and die BEFORE
the Second Coming. In speaking to Peter, Jesus said: "When thou
shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall
gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake He,
signifying by what death he would glorify God." (John 21:18, 19;
see also II Peter 1:14) According to this, though the time of the Second
Coming was unknown, it was definitely implied that it would NOT
take place before Peter's death.
Then Peter asked a question about John. He wondered if John would
live to see the day of Christ's return: Jesus replied, "If I will
that he tarry till I come, what is it to thee? Follow thou me. Then
went this saying abroad among the brethren, that this disciple should
not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, he shall not die; but, if I will
that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" (John 21:20-23)
Concerning John, Jesus simply did not reveal whether he would or would
not live until the Second Coming - though a rumor spread that he would
live to see that day. But concerning Peter, it was definitely stated
that he would grow old and die - and that he would not live to see the
We believe that early Christians lived in an expectation and HOPE
of the Second Coming. For, whether alive at that time, or because of
the resurrection, they knew that they would all ultimately share in
the glory of that day. But they did not believe in the "Any-Moment
Theory." They knew certain things would occur in their day.
The Great Falling Away (the Apostasy)
and the Revelation of the Man of Sin
Even more positive evidence of this fact is found in Paul's writings
to the Thessalonians. In his first epistle, he had explained to them
about the resurrection and the catching up of believers to meet the
Lord in the air. (I Thess. 4:16. 17) Later, some confusion had apparently
developed in the minds of the people concerning this glorious event,
so Paul wrote his second epistle to them in which he clarified the matter.
In his remarks, he clearly rejected the "Any-Moment Theory."
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by (concerning) the coming of
our Lord Jesus Christ, and by (concerning) 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." (II Thess. 2:1-3)
Here, then, is mention of two things Christians would CLEARLY
witness BEFORE the day of Christ's coming to gather believers
unto Himself. There would be a falling away and the man of sin would
be revealed. Concerning these very things, the inspired apostle said,
"Let no man deceive you." Let us beware, then, of a teaching
which says that the Church will be raptured to heaven BEFORE
the man of sin is revealed, for such is the exact OPPOSITE of
what Paul taught.
According to Paul, the order of events would be: (1) a falling away;
(2) the man of sin would be revealed; and (3) the coming of Christ and
our gathering together unto Him. It is plain. But, according to the
"Any-Moment" Theory, instead of these events being in order,
they would have to be 3, then 1 and then 2. That is, (3) the coming
of Christ and gathering together unto Him; (1) a falling away; and (2)
the man of sin revealed: 3, 1, 2 or perhaps 3, 2, 1 instead of 1, 2,
Bible students link the "man of sin" with the Beast of Revelation
13. Pre-Tribulationalists claim that when the Beast takes over, the
Church will have been raptured. But this is not what the Bible says.
According to Scriptures, the Beast will make war with the SAINTS:
"And it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome
them ..." (Rev. 13:7) The Beast could not make war with the saints
and overcome them if they had been taken to Heaven before the Beast
comes to power.
Paul knew that the man of sin would be destroyed by the brightness
of Christ's coming. (II Thess, 1:7, 8; 2;8) Therefore, he knew that
the man of sin would have to come to power BEFORE the Second