[D1]. A CLOSER LOOK AT REVELATION 4:1 AND 1 THESSALONIANS 1:10
A quick look at Revelation 4 v 1 – “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.'”
“After these things” is after the prophetic history of Christendom in chapters 2 and 3 (an outline of 7 periods of Church history), which ends with the Rapture and precedes “what must take place after these things.” 4 verse 1 is the fulcrum that divides the past with the present from the future. It is the Rapture. Remember the verse from chapter 1:19, “Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall take place after these things.” Chapter 4 v 1 begins the section, “the things which shall take place after these things.”
In 1Thess 1:10, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” In the early days of the Church, the Rapture was always before the believers’ eyes, but in the second century, as the persecution rolled on, the Church was under distress for 10 periods of its history, and the saints struggled with living and death (martyrdom). They began to forget about waiting for the Son from heaven. When the persecution ended around AD 312, heresies overtook the churches even more than previously, and the church held its great Councils.
From these, the creeds developed to state the biblical/orthodox position against heresy, especially at that time, Arianism (that stated Jesus was a created person, not divine God – much like the J.W.s).
The creed that came out to combat Arianism was The Nicene Creed, first adopted in A.D. 325 at the Council of Nicaea. At the end, it states, “He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end” (no mention of a separate Rapture or glorious hope).
We see by 325 A.D. that the understanding of the Rapture had faded; the church was now settling comfortably in the world, weakened by paganism as its practices entered into its ranks, and it became more ecclesiastical and more and more away from the honest simplicity of the early church.
Once a church becomes worldly and pagan, it thinks only of its “good life” and forgets all about the glorious hope and imminence of the Lord’s return for the saints.
In time, the Apostles’ Creed developed over the next 150 years. That creed ends with “…the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.” Very sadly, the Church had entered the days of “the forgotten Rapture” and just believed in one coming to consummate all things. The Rapture, and the whole of Revelation, and big pieces of the Major and Minor Prophets were rolled into just a few words – “He shall come to judge the living and the dead.” How sad was that, for the Rapture is not only our hope but the motivation we have for a life lived correctly in expectation of the Lord’s coming.
For about 15 to 18 centuries, the Rapture remained forgotten, dead and buried! Except for the very odd isolated Christian here and there who understood the scriptures, if they could ever hear them; for the church of Rome forbade ordinary people from having any scripture.
This verse in 1Thess 1:10 – “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come,” very explicitly places the time of the Rapture. We know from careful study of Thessalonians that this wrath to come is connected with the coming world leader/Antichrist and the Day of the LORD. The Deliverer who comes is the Lord Jesus Christ who delivers us from that. That delivery is the Rapture.
[D2]. A SMALL LOOK AT GALATIANS AND TITUS
There are two verses by Paul that focus very much on the Rapture, and these are they:
Galatians 5:5, “We, by faith, through the Spirit, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.”
Titus 2:13, “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Christ Jesus.”
The hope of our righteousness is that time when the completion of personal righteousness comes equipped with the new bodies, and that happens at the Rapture. Christ our righteousness will come, and our righteousness is complete in Him. In Titus, the “blessed hope,” “glorious hope” (KJV) is what we must look out for. It is the coming of the Lord for His redeemed Church. It is our hope. The Rapture is the great hope of new creation in Jesus Christ. Hope does not make us ashamed, and the hope of His coming for us ought to grow stronger as we advance in years. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
When there is little hope, the people despair. That is the sad condition of people in China, suppressed and oppressed by a satanic regime. As a word of warning, I think it is what our western world is moving towards, in particular, the USA and Australia, as I know those nations best. When hope is abandoned, drudgery and misery and uncertainty take over. A famous saying has come down from the great poem by Dante, “The Divine Comedy,” in the Inferno section where there is an inscription over the gates of hell, “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate,” meaning “Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here.”
Paul said to the Corinthians if we had hope only in this life in Christ with no resurrection, we would be the most miserable of all people. It is not like that, however, because we have hope through the resurrected Lord; that hope is sure and certain. So now, we wait for His coming to raise us up to Him, whether we be asleep in death or still living on earth when He comes again.
[D3]. A DEEPER LOOK AT 2 THESSALONIANS 2, A FEW VERSES
One of the more revealing teachings about the Rapture is found in 2Thess 2. Paul had spent three weeks at Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-2), and we know from the content of this second chapter that in those three weeks, Paul had taught these converted idolaters all about the Christian life and salvation. But more than that, He instructed them about eschatology, the very thing many churches today dismiss as irrelevant or too controversial. Speaking of these matters, he wrote – 2Thess 2:5, “Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?”
What were these things he was telling them about?
The primary importance was that the Rapture would occur because it was Jesus who would deliver them from the wrath that was to come – 1Thess 1:10, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” However, the Thessalonian Christians were being persecuted, and they thought the wrath was upon them from God and that they were in the Tribulation, as part of the Day of the Lord. Fearfully, they reasoned they had missed out on the Rapture because Paul had told them the Christians would not be in the Tribulation because “God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Thess 5:9).
Then he wrote this to them – 2Thess 2:1-4, “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.”
We will look at 2:3. This is a Rapture verse. In nearly every translation, one word in the verse is translated as “apostasy,” but I suggest it is a wrong translation. Here is a little study on that:
[E]. A FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF 2 THESSALONIANS 2:3
KJV – “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.”
NASB – “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.”
Before the Day of the LORD (Jehovah) comes, 2 Thess 2:3 declares that there must first be a “falling away” (KJV) or “apostasy” (NASB). The words used for this expression are “ἡ ἀποστασία (apostasia),” generally translated “apostasy” or “falling away” by most versions. It is a pity the KJV did not translate as “departure,” for then we would not have this trouble in explanation.
The expression “the apostasy” normally means “defection, revolt or rebellion.” BUT it can also be translated by “disappearance” or “departure,” and it has been suggested by the eminent Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest in Prophetic Light in the Present Darkness and by E. Schuyler English in Rethinking the Rapture that the reference is not to an apostasy from the faith (didn’t that occur some 1,800 years ago in the great heresies, and later in the Dark and Middle Ages under the R.C. church?), but to the translation (departure) of the Church from the world.
Kenneth Wuest points out that the word “apostasia” is derived from the root verb “afistami,” which means to remove, withdraw, depart, go away, etc. Of its 15 occurrences in the New Testament, it is 11 times translated “depart” (as in leaving). Wuest accordingly argues that the substantive must mean “departure.” And since the Greek text has the definite article [ἡ = The], then a particular departure is in view [THE departure]. The argument for that is comprehensive, and that departure is the removal of the Church. The Church is translated to heaven. So, the word should not be translated as “apostasy” but DEPARTURE (of the Church). That makes the passage very clear.
These are the 15 references to the use of the Greek word “apostasia”:
Luke 8:13; 13:27; 2:37; 4:13.
Acts 12:10; 15:38; 19:9; 22:29.
2Cor 12:8; 1Tim 6:5; 4:1; 2Tim 2:19; Heb 3:12.
Of course, 2Thess 2:3 and one other I don’t have right now.
Now here is further support for that and part of what I wrote earlier. I am repeating, but not verbatim:
2Thess 2:1-2, “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.”
Without expanding on this further, it is fairly easy to understand from the passage here that the Thessalonians were deeply troubled because they thought the terrors that had come upon them were those of the Great Tribulation Paul had taught them of. They were assured they would be caught up to be with the Lord before that event, but they were still on earth (See 1Thess 1:9-10). Jesus is the Deliverer from the coming wrath. Because they thought the wrath had come, they were shaken and thought they had missed the Rapture, identifying their troubles with the Great Tribulation. Paul had to explain there that Jesus is the One who will deliver “out of” (Greek ἐκ) the coming wrath. “Out of” is correct, more so than “from” – “delivers us from [OUT OF] the wrath to come” (1Thess 1:10). Verse 2 here should read, “Day of Jehovah,” or if you like, “Day of the LORD.”
I have prepared an article of all the Old Testament and New Testament references to the Day of the LORD with explanation, and it will come onto R.R. in the future.
Paul now goes on to tell them that certain things must happen before that Day can come. As those things were not present then, there was no way that Day of Jehovah had come, and they could not be in the Great Tribulation.
NASB: 2Thessalonians 2:3-7, “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed. 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.”
In verse 7, it is revealed that there is One here who is restraining/hindering the full release and revelation of iniquity/lawlessness. This One is the Holy Spirit, for NO one else (or thing, or happening) can hold back the onslaught of wickedness. Only when He goes, can iniquity become fully matured and burst like a flood on the earth.
Wickedness is growing at an alarming rate on earth now and seeks maturity, so the Rapture can’t be that far away. The Holy Spirit WILL and CAN ONLY go when the true Church departs, for He seals the believers with the baptism of the Spirit (1Cor 12:13). The Holy Spirit goes with the departure of the Church. For that reason, this passage in 2Thessalonians can be included in the grouping of Rapture passages.
END OF PART 2