Will there be a sudden, secret Rapture?

A highly-influential interpretation of Scripture evolved in the mid 19th century teaching that believers will –without warning – be removed from the earth prior to Jesus return. But is it scriptural?
 

first published 23/08/13
Please see 'Update' note:

Ed foreword:
A recent article on the Christians Together website invited site members and visitors to look at the conflicting theological positions of Dispensationism and Covenant Theology.
In the event the discussion focussed down on the Millennium and what has become termed 'The Rapture'; and the timing of the same.
The following article takes a look at the doctrine. The author Rev. Tony Higton stresses that he avoids being dogmatic on the issue and that his writing is a 'work-in-progress'.
 

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RaptureWill there be a sudden, secret "Rapture" of believers to heaven?

by Rev. Tony Higton
 
Some Christians believe that Jesus will next return suddenly, without any signs or warnings, and will secretly "rapture" (catch up) all believers into heaven whilst there is a time of 'Great Tribulation' on earth.

They say this could happen at any moment. Nothing needs to happen before it. This return of Jesus is completely imminent. It will only be seen by the church, not by the world. It is not the same as the Second Coming which will happen later and be seen by the whole world.

I was brought up on this view and, throughout my childhood, I was excited by the thought that Jesus could return at any moment. So I understand only too well how much this view means to Christians who hold it. It is not my intention to cause unnecessary upset to them but I have to say that I have concluded that it is an incorrect understanding of the New Testament.
 
History of the "Secret Rapture" view
 
This view sees the following order of events:

1.  Secret Rapture
2.  Great Tribulation (Matt 24:21)
3.  Second Coming
4.  Millennium (1000 year reign of Christ on earth Rev 20:1-6)
 
Here is a potted history of this view:

(a)  Early church leaders and their godly descendants for 1800 years didn't hold this view.
(b)  In 1830 Margaret Macdonald had an End Times vision and began to teach the Rapture of what we would call Charismatic Christians only.
(c) Edward Irving, Scottish Presbyterian preacher, then taught this view. d.                John Nelson Darby, Anglican priest, probably heard the view from the above. He formed the Plymouth Brethren. [Part of my background is in the Brethren]
(e)  Darby influenced American lawyer Cyrus I Scofield who wrote the notes for the Scofield Bible which teach this view. [I was brought up on the Scofield Bible]. f. Recently Hal Lindsay, Tim LaHaye ('Left Behind' novels) have popularised this view.
 
"Dispensationalism"
 
J N Darby believed:
 
(a) That God's dealings with humanity are divided into seven ages or "dispensations."
 
(b) That God's dealings with Israel are totally separate from his dealings with the church. " 
  • Israel and the Church belong to different "Dispensations" (Ages) "      
  • God has different plans for Israel and the Church "         
  • Whatever God said to Israel should never be applied to the church and vice versa.
(c) That for the last 2000 years (the "Church Age") he has only been working with the church, not with Israel. So the current dispensation is the Church Age.
 
(d) That God won't start working with Israel again until the church is taken out of the way - in the Secret Rapture, which will end the present dispensation to an end. So Darby believed the Rapture is important in God's purposes.
 
(e) That in the Millennium (the next "Dispensation") God will work with Israel.
 
To avoid confusion let me say these are Darby's views, not mine. I disagree with him and will say why later. If you want to impress your friends with technical language ...
 Darby taught "Dispensational Pre-millennialism" i. e. that there are various 'dispensations' (different ages) before (pre-) the Millennium. It's helpful to understand that terminology.
 
(Whilst dealing with complex language let me add that there is another form of premillennialism called "historic premillennialism" which has a lot more credibility. It is called 'historic' because many of the earliest Christian leaders believed it. It does not believe in a separate secret Rapture before the Great Tribulation, nor in dispensations).
 
Be careful not to read into the Bible what you want to find in it
 
Whenever we hold a special opinion there is a danger that we shall "read into" Scripture what is not actually there in Scripture. I think that is what those who defend this Secret Rapture view are in danger of doing. But we need to stand back and try to understand what the Bible actually does say, rather than what we want it to say.
 
Those who hold that the Rapture of believers into heaven can happen at any moment tend to argue from silence.

The New Testament nowhere says that there are two returns of Christ - the Rapture and then later the Second Coming. This distinction is actually based upon the fact that references to the Lord's return don't always include all the information. Some, like Matthew 24, speak of the signs which must happen before his return. Others don't. But that does not mean they are speaking of two different returns, one with signs and the other without. The only order of events found in the NT is the appearance of signs leading up to the Antichrist - the Great Tribulation - the Second Coming.
 

Passages some say are relevant

 
The main passage referring to the saints being "raptured" ("caught up") is 1 Thess 4:16-17 "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 for ever." These people interpret this as Jesus suddenly catching up all the believers and taking them up into heaven. However the passage only says we will be with the Lord for ever. It doesn't say where, except we meet him in the air/clouds.
 
When Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians (1 Thess. 4:16-17) he used the Greek word apantesis. Although we can't be certain, it seems likely that he had in mind the Greek approach to an official visit to a city by some dignitary. When such an important person visited the leading people and others would go out to meet him then escort him back into the city. It seems likely therefore that 1 Thess 4:16-17 means that believers are caught up to meet the Lord and escort him back to earth (not disappear with him to heaven). Many scholars agree with this view and, as we shall see, the general teaching of the NT seems to support it.
 
"'Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (John 14:1-3)
 
Some think this clearly indicates that Jesus will return to rapture believers to heaven and the house with many rooms seems to refer to heaven. However:
 
(a)  Two days earlier Jesus had taught his disciples on the Mt of Olives (the Olivet Discourse) that there would be many signs before his return: the "birth-pains" of the coming of the Messiah - wars, famine, earthquakes etc., persecution and false prophets, the gospel being preached to the whole world and the Gentile domination of Jerusalem ending, the great distress (tribulation) and cosmic signs followed by his return to gather the elect from the four corners of the earth.
 
(b) This teaching would be fresh in the disciples' minds and we are surely right to assume that, in the absence of any statement to the contrary, they would understand John 14:3 as not a different return of Christ without signs or warning but as the same return he was speaking of on the Mt of Olives.
 
(c) The great promise of John 14:3 is that when Jesus returns believers will always be with him and that ultimately means in heaven. But that doesn't mean he will take them to heaven immediately
 
1 Thess 1:9-10 speaks of Jesus returning to rescue us from the coming wrath.
 
Some think this means Jesus will remove all believers to heaven so they don't experience the "wrath" of the Great Tribulation. But this is an assumption, it is not what the passage says. It could equally well mean God will help believers in difficult times and come and rescue them from the wrath of his ultimate judgment.
 
"Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, 'Peace and safety', destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.
For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Thess 5:1-9)
 
Some people say this destruction is the Great Tribulation and will only suddenly come on unbelievers because the church will have been "raptured" to heaven. However:
 
(a) This passage about destruction and wrath is continuous with 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 which speaks of the rapture of believers (the chapter division was not in the original).
 
(b) Paul warns BELIEVERS about the day of the Lord, which brings destruction, and says they must not be taken by surprise when it comes. "But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief" (1 Thess 4:4). Clearly, believers will not have been raptured away into heaven, they will experience this dark day.
 
(c)
'Day', as often in Scripture, means a period of time.
 
(d) This passage indicates that Paul describes that believers are caught up to meet the Lord and then escort him back to earth (not disappear with him to heaven).
 
"Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed." (1 Cor. 1:7)             
  • Some say the eager waiting may suggest an imminent rapture. But this is unconvincing.
"We wait for the blessed hope - the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13)
  • Some say the words "blessed hope" may suggest an imminent rapture. But this is unconvincing.
 "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure." (1 John 3:2-3)
  • Some say that an imminent "Rapture" would be a greater incentive for pure living. But the fact that we are one day going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10) is quite sufficient to encourage us to purify ourselves. In fact, it is a stronger incentive. Also we should remember that death could be imminent for any of us. That too is a strong motive.
 Jesus says: "Look, I am coming soon!" (Rev. 22:7,12, 20)
  •  Some think this points to the rapture as being imminent and ready to occur "at any moment." But the context of judgment. Jesus says "Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done." He goes on to refer to people who "wash their robes" so they may enter heaven as opposed to those who are sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters etc., (Rev. 22:14-15). Yet the secret rapture is not meant to be related to judgment."           
It is important to remember that those who believe in a sudden secret rapture say that it is not to do with judgement (which, they say, comes later). But we shall see that many NT passages thought to refer to the rapture actually do refer to judgment.
 
In Romans Paul says: "The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here."  (Rom. 13:11-12)        
  • This clearly speaks of the approaching return of Christ but it has nothing to say in support of a sudden secret rapture.
 
The letter to the Hebrews speaks of "Encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Heb 10:23-25)             
  • Again, this is stressing that the return of Christ is approaching. But the context is about judgment. See Heb 10:26-31. Yet, as we have seen, the secret rapture is not meant to be related to judgment. That happens, say the proponents of this view, at the subsequent second coming.
 
James wrote: "The end of all things is near." (James 4:7-10)
  • However it has nothing to say in support of a sudden secret rapture.
James further stresses "the Lord's coming is near." ( In James 5:8-9)
  • He is even "standing at the door" but he does so as the Judge and the secret rapture is not meant to be related to judgment.
 
Jesus tells the parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-13) in which the bridegroom suddenly appears at midnight."
  • This cannot be understood as referring to a sudden secret rapture, though, because the foolish virgins (nominal believers) are excluded finally. So judgment takes place but those who teach there is a sudden secret rapture say it is not associated with judgment. (Furthermore, if it referred to the rapture, the foolish virgins would have the opportunity to come to faith in the Great Tribulation and so not to be excluded finally as the parable says they were). The same can be said for the similar parable in Luke 12:35-48 where the Lord's sudden coming is associated with judgment.
Jesus speaks of "The day the Son of Man is revealed"  (Luke 17:30-35) and adds: "I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding corn together; one will be taken and the other left."   
  • This is speaking about an unexpected coming of the Lord and a rapture of individuals. But, again, the context shows it is associated with judgment. See verses 26-30. So this cannot be the sudden, secret rapture.
 The writer to the Hebrews says:"In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay." (Heb 10:36-37).             
  • Yet again the context speaks of judgment (See Heb 10:24-31).
Peter says (2 Peter ch. 3) that God's ideas of imminence are not the same as ours.
  • The scoffers ask: "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." (2 Pet. 3-4). The answer is: "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Pet. 8-9). However "The day of the Lord will come like a thief" (2 Pet. 3:10).

Tony HigtonRev. Tony Higton has been an Anglican clergyman for over 40 years having been brought up in the Christian Brethren and teaching. Now living in Norfolk he has previously served in Christ Church, Jerusalem where he was General Director of Church's Ministry amongst Jewish People (CMJ).  For 14 years Tony took a stand for Biblical doctrine and morality in the Church of England General Synod and was frequently on TV, radio and in the press.

Working along with his wife Patricia (who is also a theological graduate) he has recently launched a website offering hundreds of articles, training courses and several books to download for free. Of this new venture he says: "Resources on this site come from experience in developing teaching and training resources which have been shared at conferences in 15 countries and used by thousands of churches.”

As a 'work-in-progress Tony further comments: "“We shall be adding new material as time goes on, including, hopefully, audio material of our teaching courses etc."
See Christian Teaching Blog

 
Ed footnotes:
1. The Pre-tribulation Rapture
teaching was and has since been disseminated via the notes in the 'Scofield' Bible. As the article states, it has also been the subject of best-selling novels like 'The Late Great Planet Earth' and the 'Left Behind' series.

2. Questions/Responses and Answers
Tony Higton has kindly agreed to respond to questions or comments about what he has written. In the first instance these should be sent to the Editor who will append both the questions and responses to this article.                                                                            E-mail: e-mail address
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Admin Note:
  • In order to keep track of the discussion(s) a Ref. No. will be assigned to each post/question; and this no. will be used with relation to subsequent responses.
  • If using Scripture references (preferred, rather than quoting human writers) then it would be helpful to use the format ('Book then Chapter:Verse(s)' e.g. Genesis 1:1 or Gen 1:1-3 ). This will save me time in relation to providing  the 'verse pop-up' facility to function.
  • Remember please that the purpose is to 'pose questions' (rather than make statements).
With thanks for your help in producing an orderly 'Question Time' and in minimising the demands on Tony's time.

Update (06/05/14):
This article was open for a periiod for anyone to respond (i.e. to pose questions to Tony directly onto the site). However it is now only logged-on site members who can post.

Tony Higton, 27/02/2014

Feedback:
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Editor 26/03/2014 20:25
In an excellent and balanced book on the subject ('The Blessed Hope'; George Eldon Ladd) the author writes:

"If the Blessed Hope is in fact a pretribulation rapture [from the earth] the Church has never known that hope through most of its history, for the idea of a pretribulation rapture did not appear in prophetic interpretation until the nineteenth century."

The author then defends the stamement with reference to the Didache, The Epistle of Barnabus, The Shepherd of Hermas, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Lactantius and Hippolytus. In the process observing:

"While tradition does not provide authority, it would nevertheless be difficult to suppose that God had left His people in ignorance of an essential truth for nineteen centuries."

The author concludes: "The vocabulary of the Blessed Hope knows nothing of two aspects of Christ's coming, one secret and one glorious. On the contrary, the terminology points to a single indivisible return of Christ. Scripture says nothing about a secret coming of the Lord.
"The Scriptures which predict the Great Tribulation, the Rapture and the Resurrection nowhere place the Rapture and the Resurrection of the saints at the beginning of the Tribulation. Nor does Scripture know anything of two phases of the first resurrection - that of the saints and that of the tribuulation martyrs - separated by a seven-year period of tribulation.
"On the contrary, the one passage which is most specific as to chronology places the resurrection of both martyres and saints after the Tribulation. Furthermore, the isolated verses which are claimed for pretribulationism do not if fact assert a pre-tribulation rapture. This doctrine is nowhere affirmed in the Word of God; it is an assumption in light of which the Word of God is interpreted."

The pre-trib question was amongst those which split the Brethren movement early on. Darby and many others held that the church of God would escape the Tribulation whereas Newton, Tregelles, George Müller, and others believed the church will go through that period.

Whatever the views on all sides, the above disagreement suggests that there are valid differences of opinion and dogmatism needs to be avoided.
John Miller 27/03/2014 10:11
"So what the verse actually means is that 'the Lord will restrain the Anti-christ until the latter (in the Lord's time and at His behest) will be made obvious and public."

Dogmatic?

John Ferguson (Guest) 27/03/2014 14:47
Editor,you say the book by George Eldon Ladd (the Blessed Hope) is well balanced book it seems to me to be promoting post millenniumism and condemning a pre-trib rapture.some one who says a pre-trib rapture was introduced in the19th century hasn't read much of early church history,the first three centuaries of the church it was the prevailing view. It was not until Augustine that amillenniumism and those other end time views were introduced. I would encourage those following this thread to look the Webb page for randy@randywhiteminitries.org and go into radio scroll down broadcast archives you will find a critique on Eldon Ladd's book.

John Ferguson (Guest) 27/03/2014 17:14
I should have added scroll down broadcast archives under the section biblical world view then Pre-Trib Post-Trib
Editor 27/03/2014 17:24
There is a common and widespread error regarding Pre-millennianism.
Pre-millennianism was indeed the view of the early church. What was NOT the view of the early church was Pre-Tribulationism.

All Pre-Tribbers are Pre-Millennial; not all Pre-Millennialists are Pre-Tribbers i.e. many who believe in the Millennium believe the same as the early Church but do not hold to the novel (mid-19th century)pre-trib rapture.

To hold the pre-trib view requires a belief that -
* there are two 'second comings' of Christ (saying that the first of 'for' the saints, and the second is 'with the saints'). this would require two 'last trumpets'
* there are no prophetic events which have yet to unfold prior to the pre-trib rapture
* there are two discrete and totally separate agendas for the believing church and for Israel over the tribulation period when the church will be 'at home with the Lord' and the Jews will be suffering on earth

John Ferguson (Guest) 28/03/2014 08:59
The pre Augustinian church believed in an imminent return denied by Tony.
I would agree with the the three points you make what pre- tribers hold,only in the first point Christ comes to the air not to the earth.
To say there is not two phases of the second coming is deny John 14:1-4 different from Zech14:4 Jesus standing on the Mount of Olives
To say it is a secret coming is deny 1 Thess 4:16.
To say we go through Great Tribulation is deny 1Thess 5:9
John Miller 28/03/2014 09:30
"What was NOT the view of the early church was Pre-Tribulationism."

The "view of the early" church is actually not the issue. The issue is the word of God. It is clear from Paul's writings and the addresses in Revelation to the seven churches that there was sadly swift departure from Paul's ministry. ("All those in Asia have left me.")

The Editor seems to me to rely heavily on tradition and the writings of commentators whose views he finds attractive. I would commend the principle that our first and final authority is the word of God.

To be justify the Editor's statement one would need a time machine to go back and question those among whom Paul ministered. In the absence of such a device we must search the scriptures to see if these things are so.
Editor 28/03/2014 10:21
John (Ferguson), the pre-Augustinian church were 'Millennialist' but did NOT believe in a pre-trib coming; that is the point I am making i.e. not about the millennium and not about the expectancy; both of which are valid.

When Jesus said "I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:3) the verse needs to be seen in the context of Jewish weddings. Prior to the wedding the bridegroom laboured to build an extension onto his father's house in order to provide a home for his bride.

In terms of the 'bride' of Jesus we read several different illustrations in scripture. We see the body of Christ variously represented as guests at a wedding feast, bridesmaids, and the bride. However the bride's home-to-be (Rev. 21:2) is also described as a 'bride' (Rev 21:9).

The 'home' for the bride is the New Jerusalem. Jesus is doing the preparatory work in preparing the home for the bride right now; and, ultimately, that is the destination of all whose names are in the Lamb's book of life. The passage in John does not speak of a 'preliminary rapture' as a fulfillment of these verses.

I have never said that there will be a 'secret' coming. It will be one (single) very un-secret coming. In fact the verse you quote (1 Thess 4:16) has been described as the noisiest verse in the Bible (with the one and only 'last trumpet' call).
It will be 'on that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem' (Zech 14:4). As Dr. Luke recorded regarding 'the two men dressed in white' who declared: "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 1:11)

Regarding 'wrath' (1 Thess 5:9) we need to distinguish between 'tribulation' and 'wrath'.
Making the words tribulation and wrath mean the same thing is not honest when we check the context and sweep of scripture. The words, "tribulation" and "wrath" (different in the Greek) are not interchangeable.

God's wrath (cf Rom 1:18) and Antichrist's tribulation are entirely different things. The wrath of God is His punishment on unbelievers; the 'children of disobedience' (see Luke 3:7, Eph. 5:6, Col. 3:6, Rev. 6:17). The purpose of the Tribulation is for Antichrist to have his time to pour out his wrath on those who will not bow down and worship him and take his mark. (Rev. 12:12) God's final wrath comes later, after the Lord Jesus Christ returns for His church.

But for believers, Jesus Christ promised that we would have tribulation in this world (John 16:33; Rev. 2:10) (cf Paul 1 Thes 3:4). Jesus prayed to the Father that we would not be taken out of this world during tribulation but that we would be kept (protected) from evil. (John 17:15).

God also tells us to wait for "his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, who delivered us from the wrath to come." (1 Thess 1:10). This verse does not say "will deliver." It says delivered. This work has already been done.

In summary, a Satan-inspired tribulation is the destiny of every believer: God's wrath is reserved for unbelievers.
Editor 28/03/2014 12:34
Tony responded earlier this week to several post and I am copying both the his replies and the earlier messages to which he responded (to save readers scrolling back).
Tony's response to the last message quoted refers to a 'dialogue' with Donald Cameron. This is now available on the site. (See link at foot of this message).

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Dennis Tanner (23.03.14) In response to Tony and others who may have a fear or have lived in fear of a 'catching away of the church/saints'. Do you believe the Disciples, the Apostles, Paul, or the early church lived in fear? Yet, Paul in one of his earliest letters if not his first letter to churches he helped establish commented and even encouraged them in their lifestyle of living in expectancy, I Thessalonians 2:6-10. He commented that they even "imitated him", implying that Paul himself taught and believed that Jesus would come back at any time and during his life time. Why do you use the term "sudden secret rapture"? I believe most of us who teach a 'catching away of the saints' in a 'twinkling of the eye' would not use the term 'secret'! We believe in 'sudden' because Paul teaches in the 'twinkling of the eye" in I Corinthians 15 (he is not referring to Christ's second coming here) that coincides with his teaching in I Thessalonians 4. I do teach that it will be unexpected for unbelievers and therefore a surprise and many will not know what happened, but for the believer I don't think it will be a surprise or secret, that is not supported biblically. Paul wrote in II Thessalonians that there were events to happen before Jesus would return, but those events could be interpreted to have occurred during Paul's time, during Constantine's time, during Luther's time, during John Knox's time (who might have thought the Pope was the 'man of evil) and surely today, there is nothing left unfulfilled. Even current events show how a 'hook' is being placed in Russia that is going to drag her into an eventual alliance with Iran and war agains Israel. Time is fast drawing to close. There should be more emphasis on "harvesting and laborers for the harvest as the fields are ready and the sun of time is setting". God bless

Tony replies:

No, I don’t believe the early disciples lived in fear. I have never felt fear about the Rapture. On the contrary, it is an exciting prospect. We just need to be clear when (in God’s plan, not date!) it takes place.
We are meant to be expectant. Jesus urges us to “‘keep watch, because ..... because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matt 24:42-44). So we should be regularly thinking about his return, recognising signs pointing to his return and ‘hastening’ his return (through prayer and obedience, including evangelism).
I use the term ‘secret’ because the idea of the pre-Trib Rapture is that only the saints see it whereas the Second Coming is seen by all.
I agree that there can be various fulfilments of prophecy leading to one ultimate fulfilment. So John speaks of many antichrists coming and of Antichrist coming (1 Jn 2:18-22; 4:3; 2 Jn 7). I don’t believe all the signs etc., have been completely fulfilled in the past.

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John Miller (04.03.14): If I may I would like to offer these truths for consideration. The Lord Jesus is Israel's rejected king. He is Israel and the world's coming king although this fact, prophesied in scripture is not presently understood. He will reign for a thousand years before handing over the kingdom to His God and Father. This will be a thousand year earthly kingdom until that moment foretold in Revelation.

Nowhere in scripture is The Lord Jesus described as the king of His church. He is the church's Head. He is the glorious Bridegroom who will one day come for His Bride and celebrate the heavenly marriage of The Lamb, before returning to reign with His church on the earth where He was once rejected and slain. He will reign on the throne of David His earthly ancestor. That will be in an earthly Jerusalem, which will eventually be replaced by the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God.

Replacement theology in its various forms and grades of false interpretations of the word cannot reconcile these scriptural truths with its error.

Tony replies:

John, I do not deny the place of Israel in the End Times and explain that in a new article which will be attached to my response to Donald Cameron when it is published on this website. I do not believe in Replacement Theology. By the way, whilst I accept that prophecy speaks of the Messiah having the throne of David, the gospel of the “kingdom” was proclaimed to the Gentiles throughout the NT so I think the Lord can properly be called King of the church.

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John Ferguson (19.03.14): I agree with Tony the return of Christ does need certain things to happen as 2 Thes 2 teaches but the rapture is not the second coming of Christ,the rapture will take place seven years at least before the second coming of Christ.The The Lord Jesus comes to clouds at the rapture 1 Thes 4v17.At the second coming Christ comes to the Mount of Olives Zach 14 v 4.I don't think the church will witness the appearance of the Antichrist the church will be raptured before He appears,certainly until he who restrains is taken out of the way.2Thes.2 v 7.

Tony replies:

John, please see my response to Donald Cameron when it is published on this website. I say there why I don’t believe it is right to distinguish between the Rapture and the Second Coming in 1 & 2 Thessalonians. I think this is reading a meaning into the text which it does not have.

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Ed note: Link to Donald Cameron message and Tony's response:
http://www.christianstogether.net/Articles/397546/Christians_Together_in/Christian_Life/Christian_Survival_Resource/An_exchange_of.aspx

John Miller 28/03/2014 15:36
I do not believe that "Jesus is doing the preparatory work etc.....right now" I do not believe that this is correct. Jesus' going into heaven prepared a place for everyone redeemed by His blood. His work to ensure that place was ready and waiting for me was finished, completely finished by His death, resurrection and reception into heaven.

He is seated at the right hand of the Father presently waiting for His, the Father's word to call His own to be with Him. His present work is that of our High Priest and Advocate with the Father, serving His own in glorious ascended, exalted perfection.

His word to the forgiven malefactor demonstrates that because Jesus would be there his place was prepared. It has been so for every saint that has left this earthly life and gone to glory. The Lord Jesus is not engaged in construction or housework.

When Christ re-entered His place in heavenly glory, he sat down. His work to fit those in the Lamb's Book of Life for a place with Himself in the Father's house was complete.
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Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Survival Kit > Will there be a sudden, secret Rapture?