(1 Thessalonians 4:13—5:19)
The passage before us is the most important passage in the Pauline Epistles dealing with the deliverance of the Church from the Tribulation period. Additional passages are found in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12.
The Pre-Tribulation view about the order of future events is as follows:
- Deliverance of the Church is the next event.
- A Federation of 10 nations will emerge.
- A dictator will be revealed.
- There will be a time of peace after a treaty with Israel.
- Extended duration of treaty (7 years) is shortened by the desecration of the Temple.
- The first 3 1/2 years = beginning of sorrows.
- The last 3 1/2 years = Great Tribultion.
- There will be persecution of the Tribulation saints.
- Worldwide war erupts.
- Jesus Christ returns in power and great glory.
No believer objects to the teaching of prophecy. It is “date setting” that is cultish and which angers and alarms fundamentalists since the Deliverance of the Church is a timeless and signless event. Thus:
- The coming of Christ for the Church is imminent: it may occur at any moment.
- There is not a single prophesied event in the Bible which must occur before the Deliverance.
- There is no sign in the Bible which would help guess even the approximate date of Christ’s coming for the Church.
- At any moment we may expect to be caught up to meet Jesus Christ in the air.
- The time of the Church’s deliverance is left in the realm of the unrevealed. It is presumptuous for people to set out to know what is plainly not to be known.
- Nearly all fortune tellers play on this carnal longing to know the future. Nearly all the false cults appeal to men in some way on this basis.
- Cults and heresies arise out of stressing signs. The Doc trine of Imminency does not fit with signs.
- There are no promised signs for Christ’s coming to receive the Church in the air.
There are two closely-related future events often referred to by the single term “The Second Coming of Christ,” implying only one event … such is not the case.
Christ’s coming FOR His saints (1 Thess. 4:15-17).
- The emphasis is on saints meeting Christ in the air.
- The action moves from earth to Heaven.
- This is what is referred to in Theological terms as “The Rapture” – (I personally prefer to call this event, “the Deliverance.”)
- The word “rapture” is not found in the Bible.
- It means to “transport.”
- However, the concept is there in the Greek words:
ARPAZO, which means to carry off, snatch away, Transport … hence, Rapture (1 Thess. 4:17).
APOSTASIA means to go away, depart (2 Thess. 2:3, 6-7).
Christ’s coming WITH His saints (Zech. 14:4-7; 1 Thess. 3:13; Jude 1:14; Rev. 19:7-8, 14-16).
- The emphasis is upon Christ’s coming to earth with His Saints.
- The action moves from Heaven to earth.
- This is properly referred to in theological terms as “The Revelation.”
- This event occurs 7 years after the first event.
- This event is called in Scripture “The Day of the Lord”
(2 Pet. 3:10; 2 Thess. 2:2; Zech. 12:12-14; cf. Rev. 1:7).
- This event is related to Prophecy and Israel.
NOTE: The chronological order of these two events is quite obvious … i.e., the Lord cannot come with the saints until He comes for the saints. The saints must first be gathered together “unto Him” (2 Thess. 2:1) before they can appear “with Him” in glory (Col. 3:4).
The Deliverance of the Church is a “Mystery” or a Sacred Secret not revealed in the Old Testament (1 Cor. 15:50-51.
Note here: The resurrection was no mystery, but the transformation of the living was (cf., Dan. 12:2; Zech. 12:10). Verse 50 surely refers to the Deliverance of the Church, since flesh will inherit the earthly Kingdom. This transformation is presented as an imminent hope (vs. 58).
- Many mysteries are not known until Divine disclosure.
- Mysteries of the Kingdom (Mt. 13:11, 35)
- Mystery of Godliness (1 Tim. 3:16)
- Mystery of Israel’s blindness (Rom. 11:25)
- Mystery of Iniquity (2 Thess. 2:7)
- Mystery of The Church (Eph. 3:1-11; 6:19; Rom. 16:25; Col. 1:26-27; 4:3)
- Mystery of transformation of the living (1 Cor. 15:51). Since this is a part of Church-Age truth, there is NO WAY the Deliverance of the Church or anything about the Deliver ance of the Church could have been known in the Old Testa ment Scriptures. THIS MEANS …
- All Old Testament prophecies, signs, and information concerning the “Second Coming of Christ” had to do with “The Revelation” and not “The Deliverance.”
The prophecies of:
- World conflict, pestilence, famine (Isa. 13:4-5)
- Economic perils (Dan. 12:1)
- Silver and gold valueless (Ezek. 7:19)
- Revival of Roman Empire (Dan. 2:40-45)
- Hellish war devices (Joel 2:3-5)
- One-world government and religion (Rev. 13).
The Restoration of Israel (Mt. 13:24-27; 24:29-31; Isa. 11:10-16; 66:7-8; Ezek. 20:34-42; Amos 9:11-15). All occur in conjunct tion with “the Revelation” and not “the Deliverance.”
- Even with all these signs of the Revelation, it is impossible to predict the date of the Revelation (Mt. 24:36; Lk. 12:39).
The Deliverance is Imminent
It could happen at any time. In every context of “the Deliverance,” there is the absence of signs and time qualifiers or intervening events with this promised hope.
- Church-Age saints are to look for Christ (Phil. 3:20; Titus 2:11- 14; Heb. 9:28). Tribulation saints are to be looking for Signs (Mt. 24:15-22; 25:13).
- Church-Age saints are waiting for Christ (1 Cor. 1:7-8; 1 Thess. 1:9-10).
¨ All the current-signs preaching tends to put the emphasis on newspapers and not the Bible.
¨ It tends to teach that doctrine depends on sight instead of faith.
¨ It cultivates sensationalism resulting in bizarre and strange interpretations and predictions.
¨ The results of all this speculation, theorizing, sign finding, date setting is terrible … it always brings reproach on the doctrine of the blessed hope. It always brings reproach upon all believers.
¨ Jesus Christ may come to deliver the Body of Christ TODAY or He may not come for 1,000 years. We hope for His coming NOW and we will be ready at any moment. BUT in the meantime, we are going to live in faithful obedience to Christ.
¨ Whenever Jesus comes, you must be ready to meet Him. Will you be ready? There is only one preparation to be made (Acts 16:31); Rom. 5:8).