Got to share with my fellow Pentecostals, this discussion about the rapture with Baptist Professor Brian Wagoner. I will post comments as he responds and as I respond to him. He is a Dispensationalist. But as I mentioned, nothing is more eisegesis than exegesis as Dispensationalism. So I write:
‘Brian H. Wagner ahh! I believe your paper on the author of Hebrews is published in a Dispensationalist journal! A world unto itself! I think I have learned the language of Dispy, though not every dialect. It’s a strange land with many astonishing beliefs. I wrote about some of these endtime oddities in my book about origins. Norm Geisler immediately became my disciple on the subject of origins. But he wanted me to delete that chapter so he could introduce the book to Richard Land. The latter told me that he was ruin and restorationist on the matter of origins. I immediately knew why. Schofield was his Bible. I believe that pied piper led the Baptist to the strange world of Dispy Land.’
‘Philip Williams I’m a Young Earth Creationist, and clearly see that Jesus is coming back to Israel.’
I respond: ‘Brian H. Wagner Then, I suppose that we will miss that event here in America. Wait!
So every eye will not see him?
What’s America’s future?
What can our children look forward to? Do not those little meek ones inherit the earth?’
‘Philip Williams you mean you don’t believe in a flat earth…. Just kidding! 😂 Nothing is too difficult for the Lord. Yes, every eye will see Him! Maybe he’ll do a victory lap around the world before or after Armageddon.’
‘Brian H. Wagner like a satellite, the Russian balloon. I didn’t think the earth was his orbit.
My concern is America, our children. What should we tell them they can they look forward to? Christ? Or AntiChrist?’
‘Philip Williams you are responsible to get them to read and meditate on the Scriptures for themselves. You can tell them what you believe some passages mean in comparison to what others say they mean, but they need to be encouraged to let God’s Word convince them using normal rules of grammar and context like they would for any secular book.
Brian H. Wagner i was hoping they might find in the Scriptures some hope for this once Christian nation who believed they had escaped from the antiChrist who forbade them to read the Scriptures.
Let’s look at the normal rules of grammar pertaining to the Lord’s return:
“After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11
““Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.” Revelation 1:7
“For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
1 Thessalonians 4:14-17
All these Scriptures seem to point to the same future event, the Lord coming in the clouds. But I have been told you Dispys believe he will be descending too fast. Hence, he will bounce off those clouds and back into Heaven, though managing to grab some Christians on that first attempt at landing.
‘Philip Williams Well if it all works out as mid trib, 3/4 trib, or post trib for the Rapture… that will not be a problem for me. He has to come through/with the clouds if it’s one or two returns, either way, since He is in a physical body now.
1Th 4:14-17 NKJV – For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive [and] remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
That a rapture will happen is clear. When it will happen is disputable because no Scriptures are clear enough.
I lean towards pre-Trib because of the verses about the removal of the restrainer (the salt and light church, imo) before the man of sin (future Antichrist, imo) is revealed (publicly, imo).
2 Thessalonians 2:6-9 NKJV — And now you know what is restraining, that he [man of sin, vs 4] may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,
I wonder if someone in OT times suggested/interpreted that the predictions of the Messiah’s coming, which they read in OT prophets, should be seen as two comings with a time period in between. We in NT times know that’s true now – two comings previously seen as one coming, but with 2000 years in between already. So maybe the NT predictions of the next coming are also going to work out as two events with a time period of 7 years in between. Possible, right?
The OT prophets certainly wondered how the “coming” of Christ was going to play out, and many, if not most, probably could not imagine a return to heaven and then another return to earth. Perhaps the NT apostles didn’t know how the second coming was going to work out, and could not see Christ returning back to heaven with His church and then another return to earth to finally reign. Maybe they were like the OT prophets in their search for understanding.
[1Pe 1:10-11 NKJV] Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace [that would come] to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.’
‘Brian H. Wagner if you mean by ‘rapture’ the removing(!) of the saints from the earth by any means other than their death, I see that nowhere in Scripture, pre, mid, or post trib. In fact, these very Scriptures in 1Thess 4 show even those saints who have died in Christ are returning to earth with him as the saints here meet them in the clouds.
Peter is saying that the prophecies weren’t about the OT events which gave rise to them, but about us. Just a few verses later, he tells us:
“you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 2:5
These are a kingdom of priests who represent God on earth. They will be victorious. The Gates of Hell will not prevail against them. Why all this nonsense about removing these who rule and reign with the Messiah?’
Brian responds: ‘Philip Williams Well if you don’t exegetically see a rapture – meeting the Lord in the air – in 1Thess 4:17, then you need to do some more exegetical work on that passage, especially on the word translated – “caught up”. I have nothing more to add. Your mind seems made up in spite of good evidence shared. I wish you the best!’
‘Brian H. Wagner ‘caught up’ isn’t the same as ‘caught away’ under the ordinary rules of grammar. ??’
a few more from me to Brian.
Brian H. Wagner ‘caught up’ would make one visible.
‘Caught away’ would make one invisible.
To which he responds:
‘Philip Williams exegesis is all about looking at how the Greek word is normally used in its meaning by the author first, then the NT, then the LXX, and then in Koine Greek outside the NT. Just looking at English translations is not exegesis.’
And I reply:
‘Brian H. Wagner it’s too bad that English speakers don’t have translations they can rely on. As I know, not a single English version translates this ‘catching away.’
I don’t as a matter of principle go through lexicons and ancient texts looking for a way to support my reading. I might be biased or have some agenda.
But I suppose we could compare this with Paul getting caught up to Paradise if this is the time that Paradise is descending to earth.’
Finally to Brian
‘Brian H. Wagner i have a few more verses which you don’t need to respond here. I just want to help you prepare to explain these verses some day when you may feel that you need to respond.
The first is the parable of the tares and wheat. At the end of the age, it’s the tares(!) who are removed, similar as in the days of Noah and Lot.
“As the weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everything that causes sin as well as all lawbreakers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The one who has ears had better listen!” Matthew 13:40-43 NET
Jesus usually refers to the Creation as the Kingdom of the Father. Does the “rapture” somehow refute Jesus’s prophecy?
The other passage where Paul consoles the Thessalonians who we’re experiencing persecution from the pagans just as he was suffering from the Jews is very similar.
“For it is right for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to you who are being afflicted to give rest together with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels. With flaming fire he will mete out punishment on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will undergo the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his strength, when he comes to be glorified among his saints and admired on that day among all who have believed – and you did in fact believe our testimony.”
2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 NET’
But Scripture says the meek shall inherit the earth. Is national Israel meek? it seems that America has been turning from God from the time it started supporting national Israel. Do you think there might be a connection? The first nation to support natural Israel was then Godless Soviet Union. Probably because those Israelis were mostly socialists. – does your national Israel recognize Jesus as their King? What are you and John Hagee doing to try to convert them?