Why the Rapture Comes First – Part 4 of 4


Hi all,
Today we’ll look at I&II Thessalonians to bring all we’ve covered full circle. But first the summary:
Judaism teaches when the Last Trumpet is blown during the new moon phase at the start of their year, dead believers in Messiah rise to meet Him. Paul added his own revelation that we who are alive at that time will join them. While they are judged and have a celebratory 7 year feast in heaven, the earth enters into the Days of Wrath*, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, and Birth Pangs of Messiah. Daniel prophesied this as a 7 year period of time when a man of sin will make a 7 year treaty with Israel, then betray them at the half way mark, 3.5 years into the treaty.
*Note these mentions of the days of wrath: Revelation 6: 16, 11: 18, 14: 10, 19, 15:1, 7, 16:1. Isaiah 13: 13, Jeremiah 10: 10, 21: 5, 32: 37, Nahum 1: 2. See also Joel chapters 1-3 for ‘the day of the Lord’.
When you read in The Revelation, about ‘the wrath of Him who sits on the throne’ and ‘the day of His wrath has come’ in Revelation 6:16-17, know that is a very Jewish thing. It isn’t a casual use of the word ‘wrath’. Paul and the writers purposely use that word to communicate a specific time. It is distinct and unique to the time of Jacob’s Trouble, also known as the birth pangs of Messiah.
I & II Thessalonians.
In I Thessalonians 1: 10 Paul sets the theme of his letter: “And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, who has delivered us from the wrath to come.” (Notice the sentence structure, that he specifically mentions Jesus having been raised from the dead, alluding to the dead in Christ rising and we who are alive to be changed at that time).
We can clearly see the use of ‘(delivered us from the) wrath to come’ and that we have been delivered from that time, is a very specific time frame. But if a person isn’t knowledgeable of the Jewish use of the word or phrase, they will miss it.
Having assured them we will be delivered from the wrath to come, he explains those days in 4:13-16:
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have died, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so those who have died in Jesus, will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain at the coming of the Lord shall not come before those who have died. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:”
That is of course exactly what he said in I Corinthians 15 – all things in order, the dead in Christ 1st, then those alive, in his explanation of how we will be delivered from the wrath to come.
He repeats his statement of 1:10 in 5:9-10 to drive the point home: “For God (Father) has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. So whether we have died or are alive, we will live together with Him.”
This agrees with his teaching of I Corinthians 15, his use of the temple prayer at the Feast of Trumpets in Ephesians 5:14-16, and assertion the New Moon is a shadow of something to come (the blowing of the trumpet so the dead and alive are changed and with the Lord). The Father has delivered from the Days of Wrath
The Thessalonians wanted more detail about the events around the Lord coming for them…
So Paul wrote a second letter to the Thessalonians with more detail about ‘the rapture’. In chapter 1 of his 2nd letter he spoke once again about how we will be with Him as He pours His wrath out on unbelievers at that time. Then chapter 2 opens:
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a departure (falling away) first, and then the man of sin will be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Don’t you remember that when I was with you, I told you these things?
And now you know what withholds him that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity is already at work: Only he who now restrains will continue to restrain him, until he is taken out of the way.
And then the Wicked one will be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming. (2nd coming)”
Departure debate
The focus of many is on the word ‘apostia’, ‘departure’, or ‘falling away’. Also used to describe a revolt, a leaving of one for the other, a falling away. Therefore when Paul says a ‘falling away’ must happen before the man of sin is revealed, many assume it means a ‘falling away from the faith’.
There is no ‘of the faith’ in any Greek manuscript. Paul didn’t say a falling away from the faith, just that a falling away, a departure must happen first. But to those who think it is a falling away of the faith, they believe Paul to say the man of sin cannot be revealed until there is a massive departure from the faith.
But that makes no sense grammatically. Read this as ‘falling away from the faith’ to see the contradiction: “That day will not come until the massive falling away from the faith happens, then the man of sin will be revealed…and now you know what is preventing him from being revealed, and so he who restrains him from being revealed will continue to do so, until he is taken out of the way.”
How does that make sense? A massive departure from the faith must happen and THEN the man of sin is revealed, and somehow anti-Christ is restrained until there is a massive falling away from the faith? Then who is ‘he’ that is restraining him who must be removed or ‘taken out of the way’ so anti-Christ can be revealed? It makes no sense.
What does make sense is following Paul’s teaching in the rest of the NT
The Amplified Bible in its notes, and Kenneth Wuest’s NT make notes that reveal the word ‘apostia’ at their root, mean departure, falling away from view, or departure on a journey. In Bible school in 1979 I learned the original use of the word described the act of a ship leaving port and ‘falling away’ out of site over the horizon as it departed. THAT understanding of the word is consistent with the rest of the NT and grammatically here:
“That day will not come until the rapture (Jewish catching away of believers in Messiah) comes first, and then the man of sin will be revealed…and now you know what is restraining him that he may be revealed at the right time…and he who restrains him will continue to do so until he is taken out of the way, then he man of sin will be revealed.” (II Thess. 2: 3-7)
The ‘he’ who is restraining him is the body of Christ, Christ in the earth, acting as a salt or preservative that must be removed for the man of sin to be revealed. Some would suggest it is the Holy Spirit who is removed so the man of sin may be revealed. I would say it this way, it is the Holy Spirit in us and His time of ministry to us, Jews and Gentiles alike who have been part of the last 2,000 years of the age of the Gentiles, must be removed.
The Holy Spirit will remain on the earth for people are born again in the Tribulation.
But His ministry as we know it in the body of Christ, will be removed. God will deal with Israel in the last 7 years which is Daniel’s 70th week, which is why we see the 2 witnesses of Moses and Elijah – God will be on ‘Jewish time’ so to speak.
So the body of Christ and the Holy Spirit’s ministry which is uniquely to us in this ‘church age’ must be removed from the earth so it may ‘go bad’ we might say. I know we want to always refer to us as the bride, but the NT references to the body of Christ being the bride of Christ are very few (4 of them, all in The Revelation), while the references to us being the body of Christ and one body with Christ are by far the more numerous, around 130 times saying we are in Him and He in us in context about being His body in the earth while He as the head guides from heaven.
Now we have consistency in all Paul wrote on the subject. In I Corinthians 15: 35-56 he mentions the Last Trumpet which identifies the Jewish belief that at the Feast of Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah, when it starts at the New Moon, the dead in Messiah will be resurrected with glorified (heavenly material) bodies. Paul adds his own revelation that those alive at that time will also ‘be changed in the blink of an eye’.
He repeats this assertion in Colossians 2: 16-17 stating among other things, the New Moon is a ‘shadow of things to come’. He again confirms this to the Ephesians in 5:14-16 translating the temple prayer from Hebrew to Greek, saying: “Rise you who sleep, rise you who slumber, and Messiah will give you light. See then that you live soberly, not as fools (fools say ‘there is no God’) but as wise, for the days are evil.”
He tells the Thessalonians the same things – the Father has not destined us to wrath, but to obtain our salvation. The Lord will descend with a shout and the sound of the trumpet, and to the unbeliever He will be like a thief in the night – a thief breaks in to take something that doesn’t belong to him – but we belong to Christ so Him taking us is legal and right. But to the unbeliever, the rapture will be like Jesus breaking into homes and taking that which doesn’t belong to Him – but we do.
Then finally, providing the last bit of detail for the Thessalonians, he reveals the man of sin cannot be revealed until the departure comes first, which is restraining the man of sin from being revealed. But once removed, the body of Christ’s departure will allow the man of sin to be revealed.
And that is why consistently Paul writes to ‘therefore comfort one another with these words’ (I Thess. 3:2, 4: 18, 5:11, II Thess. 2: 17). Amen. Let yourself be comforted, let it resonate in your spirit….and rest….new series next week, until then, blessings,
John Fenn



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