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The opening comments to tonight’s program were based on a topic posted at the Christogenea Forum.
Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians, Part 5: The Rapture of the Wicked.
Presenting the end of 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, we discussed the supposed Rapture of the Saints, and discovered that Paul never really described such a Rapture at all. Rather, he was poetically depicting some of the events as he perceived that they shall take place at the Second Advent of the Christ, in relation to the resurrection of the dead and the regathering of the people of God. Many denominational Christians expecting a so-called Rapture expect to be lifted up into the heavens and into the clouds at any given moment, which is a childishly ridiculous fantasy.
We pointed out that by writing “clouds”, Paul was very likely only referring to throngs, just as he used the word for cloud in Hebrews chapter 12. We also showed that where the King James Version has the words “caught up”, the literal meaning is more properly carried off. In part, a more practical reading of 1 Thessalonians 4:17 may read “Then we, the living who are remaining, at once with them shall be carried off in throngs for a meeting...” But this is not all.
We also elucidated the fact that where Paul spoke of a meeting “in air”, or “in the air”, he was not talking about the sky or the heavens, since in the Gospels wherever the sky is referred to the Greek word is οὐρανός, or heaven, and not ἀήρ, or air. We argued that everywhere the phrase “birds of the air” is mentioned in the New Testament, the word is οὐρανός, which is otherwise usually translated as heaven in the King James Version. If the οὐρανός is the abode of the birds, then by saying ἀήρ Paul could not have been referring to the sky. Here in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 the word for air is ἀήρ, not οὐρανός, so using it Paul did not intend to refer to the abode of the birds. Rather, he was referring to the physical world, as opposed to the spiritual, using the word just as he had used it in a reference to Satan, the prince of this world, as the “prince of the power of the air” in Ephesians chapter 2.
Discrediting the supposed Rapture of the Saints, we hope to have fully demonstrated that the proponents of such a theory not only misinterpret Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, but they also take out-of-context many passages from the early Christian writers, namely Irenaeus, Cyprian and Pseudo-Ephraim, and they twist them into pretzels in order to buttress their position. But we are confident that once we examined fuller passages of those writers, we proved beyond doubt the purposeful dishonesty of the Rapture proponents who cite such works to support their claims.
There can be no Rapture of the Saints, as the denominational Christians describe it, for many Scriptural reasons, some of them which we shall discuss here this evening. For now it shall suffice to say that Christians are told by Christ Himself to pray that “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”, and why should that be our prayer if we should all expect to be taken up into heaven before the restoration of the Kingdom of God on earth? For this same thing, in Acts chapter 1, the apostles themselves were told that “This Jesus, who is taken up from you into the heaven, thusly shall He come in the manner which you have beheld Him going into the heaven.”
So there is no Rapture of the Saints, but there will be a rapture – if we want to call it that. The Rapture which Christians are really promised is a Rapture of the Wicked, and this too is mentioned in many places in Scripture. Here we shall discuss that at length, as Paul makes mention here in this chapter of the imminent destruction of the enemies of Yahweh our God. This is the gathering of the tares, which is what Yahshua Christ truly describes in Matthew chapter 24. The Rapture enthusiasts like to use that verse where it says “40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” However Yahshua Christ certainly did not contradict His Own words in Matthew chapter 13 where He spoke of the wheat and the tares and He said “30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” So the Tares are taken away before the Wheat is gathered, and knowing this, the children of God should want to be left behind. As Christ Himself had said in John 17: “15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”
Here in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 Paul is still discussing the coming of the Prince which he began to describe in the last verses of 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. Paul did not change the topic, and the chapter division was not a component of Paul’s original text. The chapters were not divided until the 16th century. At the end of chapter 4 Paul spoke of Yahshua’s relationship with His people, as He would gather both the living and the dead from among them upon His return. And then here in chapter 5 Paul begins to speak concerning the timing of that same event, and then some of the other things which must also happen along with that same event. The artificial chapter division made by a Medieval monk does not change the context of Paul’s words. The beginning of chapter 5 is merely a continuation of what Paul was discussing at the end of chapter 4.
With this, we shall commence with 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, where Paul will immediately take us back to Acts chapter 1, or to the words of Christ in the Gospel promising His Own return:
1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need to be written to you, 2 for you yourselves know thoroughly that the day of the Prince comes as a thief in the night.
The words χρόνος (Strong’s # 5550) and καιρός (Strong’s # 2540) are “times and seasons”. These words are synonyms and are alike in virtually all of their meanings. The exact same words appear in Acts chapter 1, where Luke had written of the final gathering and meeting of the apostles with the risen Christ on the mount of Olives, and he said: “6 So then they who were gathered asked Him, saying ‘Prince, then at this time shall You restore the Kingdom to Israel?’ 7 And He said to them: "It is not yours to know the times or the seasons which the Father has placed in His own authority.” So Paul is repeating exactly what he heard from the other apostles in reference to the Second Advent of Christ. But making these statements here, as we had speculated when examining earlier passages of this epistle, Paul seems to have been answering an inquiry which had been made by the Thessalonians themselves.
Here Paul makes a further reference to the “day of the Prince [or Lord]”, a phrase which is not found in the Gospels but which is mentioned frequently in the Old Testament prophets. However in the Gospels, Christ did frequently mention the coming of the “Son of Man”. Mentioning the “Day of the Lord” here, Paul ties the promised return of Yahshua Christ directly to the promised “day of the Lord” often referred to in the Old Testament prophets, as he also had at least once in each of his epistles to the Corinthians. In Acts chapter 2 it is recorded that the apostle Peter also made this connection, where he quotes from the prophet Joel and we read: “17 'And it shall be in the days future, says Yahweh, I will pour out from My Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your youths shall see visions, and your elders shall dream dreams. 18 And then upon My menservants and upon My maidservants in those days I will pour out from My Spirit and they shall prophesy. 19 And I shall make wonders in the heaven above, and signs upon the earth below, blood and fire and a vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming great day and appearance of Yahweh. 21 And it shall be that all who shall be called by the Name of Yahweh shall be preserved.'”
Likewise, the apostle Peter described that same “day of the Lord” further in his second epistle, in rather poetic terms where he had written: “8 But you must not forget this one thing, beloved: that one day with the Prince [or Lord] is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Prince does not delay the promise, as some regard delay, but has forbearance for us, not wishing for any to be destroyed but that all should have space for repentance. 10 But the day of the Prince shall come as a thief, at which the heavens shall pass away with a rushing noise, and the elements shall dissolve with burning heat and the earth and the works in it shall be discovered.”
Denominational Christians frequently fail to connect this “Day of the Lord” mentioned in the epistles of Peter and Paul with the many references to the “Day of the Lord” found in the Old Testament prophets, and to Paul’s words at the end of 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. But they are certainly all referring to one and the same broad event wherever it is prophesied. As Paul mentions the “thief in the night” analogy in connection to this “day of the Lord”, Christ spoke of His return in that same manner as well, in Matthew chapter 24. At the beginning of that chapter we read that upon exiting the temple and with the apostles having mentioned the wonderful buildings of the temple complex, Christ promised that they would all be destroyed. So in response, the apostles asked Him three questions, which do not necessarily relate to coinciding events. Matthew records their inquiry in this manner: “3, Then with His sitting upon the Mount of Olives the students came forth to Him by themselves, saying: ‘Tell us, when shall these things be?’ and ‘What is the sign of Your coming, and of the consummation of the age?’” Christ is recorded as having given one long answer, but the records do not divide His answer. So it is not clear which part of the answer relates to each of the particular questions.
However the part where Christ had mentioned the “thief in the night” which Paul also mentions speaking of the return of Christ here, is clearly in response to the question where the apostles had asked Him “What is the sign of Your coming?” In that regard Christ then said: “36, But concerning that day and hour no one knows: not the messengers of the heavens nor the Son, except the Father only. 37 For just as the days of Noah, thusly shall be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as they were in those days before the deluge eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the vessel, 39 and they did not know until the deluge had come and all were taken, thusly shall be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 At that time two shall be in the field: one shall be taken and one left alone; 41 two shall be grinding grain at the mill: one shall be taken and one left alone. 42 Therefore you must be alert, because you do not know in what day your Prince comes. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house knew in which hour of the night the thief comes, he would have been alert and would not have allowed his house to be dug through! 44 For this reason you also must be ready, because you cannot determine at which hour the Son of Man comes!”
The denominational Christians like to cite those verses in Matthew 24 to support their Rapture theory, and while those verses do describe a sort of rapture, it is not the rapture which they suppose. As we have already said, Christians must hope to be left behind.
With the terms which he uses here in this passage of 1 Thessalonians, Paul himself is connecting several things which are described at various points elsewhere in the New Testament, and Paul is describing them as if they would all happen in conjunction with one another. These are:
The return of Christ and the gathering of His people, both the living and the dead, as he described in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4.
The words of Christ in Matthew chapter 24 verses 36 through 44 where He spoke of His return as a “thief in the night”, and where certain people would be suddenly removed.
The statement in Acts chapter 1 verses 6 and 7 where the “times and seasons” are mentioned in connection to His return, which is also when the Kingdom shall be restored to Israel.
The description of the violent upheaval in relation to the “Day of the Lord” mentioned in 2 Peter chapter 3, which the apostle also referred to as he is recorded as having quoted Joel in Acts chapter 2, and which is frequently described in the prophets. This we see in the following verse of Paul’s epistle, 1 Thessalonians 5:3.
Once one sees these connections which Paul makes here, one might start to understand the nature of the rapture which those verses in Matthew 24 actually do describe. For that very reason, Paul continues here and says:
3 When they say ‘Peace’ and ‘Security’, then suddenly destruction comes upon them, even as a labor pang to her who is with child. And by no means shall they escape.
Just before speaking of the days of Noah in the passage from Matthew chapter 24 which we have already cited, Christ also said: “32 Now learn from the parable of the fig tree, when already its branches should be tender and it would produce leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 Thusly also you, when you should see all these things, know that it is near by the doors. 34 Truly I say to you that by no means should this race escape until all these things should happen! 35 The heaven and the earth shall pass, but My words shall by no means pass! 36 But concerning that day and hour no one knows: not the messengers of the heavens nor the Son, except the Father only.” So here we know that Christ and Paul are once again speaking of the same day and hour. The race which shall not escape in Matthew 24:34 where Christ said “by no means should this race escape” must be the same people of which Paul speaks here in 1 Thessalonians 5:3 where he says “3 When they say ‘Peace’ and ‘Security’, then suddenly destruction comes upon them, even as a labor pang to her who is with child. And by no means shall they escape.” Paul must be speaking of the enemies of Christ here, and not of the people of Christ, as he already wrote in relation to the people of Christ and their resurrection and gathering in the closing verses of chapter 4, where he concluded that “in that manner always with the Prince we shall be”. Therefore here in this passage, we see support for our understanding of the words of Christ where He said in Matthew 24:34 “that by no means should this race escape until all these things should happen!” Just as we do, it is clear that Paul had also interpreted those words to refer to the return of the Christ, and not to what happened in Jerusalem in 70 AD.
In Matthew chapter 24, we see two things which are foretold of the day of the coming of the Son of Man, or the “Day of the Lord”: First, that a particular race will not escape until all these things come to pass, where Christ was referring to His opposition in Jerusalem. Second, we read that as it was in the days of Noah, sudden destruction would come, and that “40 At that time two shall be in the field: one shall be taken and one left alone; 41 two shall be grinding grain at the mill: one shall be taken and one left alone. 42 Therefore you must be alert, because you do not know in what day your Prince comes.”
Later in this chapter of 1 Thessalonians, in verse 9, Paul tells his Christian readers that “Yahweh has not ordained us for wrath, but for the acquisition of preservation through our Prince Yahshua Christ”. Of course, we have often mentioned the purpose of the Gospel given in Luke chapter 1: “68 Blessed is Yahweh the God of Israel, that He has visited and brought about redemption for His people... 70 just as He spoke through the mouths of His holy prophets from of old: 71 preservation from our enemies and from the hand of all those who hate us! 72 To bring about mercy with our fathers and to call into remembrance His holy covenant, 73 the oath which He swore to Abraham our father, which is given to us… 77 For which to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the dismissal of their errors….” And in that context, we see that the salvation which is in Christ must be exclusive to the descendants of the ancient children of Israel.
So if preservation is ordained for the children of Israel, we must determine whom it is who is ordained for wrath, and for that we must turn to the Old Testament prophecies of the “Day of the Lord” as well. There is one such prophecy of the “Day of the Lord” in Obadiah, which is still awaiting fulfillment: “15 For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. 16 For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been. 17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. 18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.”
It can be established in Scripture that the reference to Yahweh’s “holy mountain” is a reference to the children of Israel themselves. For instance, long after the Israelites had been taken captive to Assyria, where Ezekiel was told in chapter 36 of his prophecy, to “prophesy unto the mountains of Israel,” the admonition was an allegory for the prophet to speak to the people of Israel. Likewise, in Daniel chapter 2 there was prophesied a kingdom which would be eternal, and which was from “a stone cut out of the mountain without hands”, another reference to the people of Israel. So, for instance, we read in Psalm 74, where the reference to Zion is also a reference to the people of Israel: “2 Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old; the rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt.” That Psalm, written by Asaph, was written in the Babylonian captivity, and Zion is once again an allegory for the children of Israel, not a reference to the actual mountain in Palestine. It is the people of Israel who are the holy mountain of Yahweh their God. Likewise it says in Psalm 102: “12 But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations. 13 Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. 14 For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof.”
Understanding that Yahweh’s holy mountain is the people of Israel, we read in Obadiah 15 that “15 For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. 16 For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.” So this is a reference to all of the non-Israelite nations who are feeding themselves at the expense of the children of Israel at the time of the “Day of the Lord”, by drinking upon His holy mountain. Then the two verses which follow foretell the destruction of Esau, and the enemies of Christ in Judaea were primarily of the house of Esau, something which is proven by comparing the words of Christ in Luke 11, John 8, in Revelation 2:9 and 3:9, and the words of Paul in Romans 9, to the history of inter-testamental Judaea supplied by Flavius Josephus in Antiquities, Book 13. [We have already done this here at length in our presentation of Paul’s epistle to the Romans.]
So at the “Day of the Lord”, all of the heathens, or nations, feeding off of Yahweh’s holy mountain Israel shall be “as though they had not been”, and the Edomite Jews will also be eliminated, left for stubble, and it is that time of which Paul writes here in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, “When they say ‘Peace’ and ‘Security’, then suddenly destruction comes upon them, even as a labor pang to her who is with child. And by no means shall they escape.” This may be likened to the admonition of Christ, which we have already seen in Matthew chapter 24: “32 Now learn from the parable of the fig tree, when already its branches should be tender and it would produce leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 Thusly also you, when you should see all these things, know that it is near by the doors. 34 Truly I say to you that by no means should this race escape until all these things should happen!” The fig tree is the one which Christ had cursed, in Matthew chapter 21: “19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.” The fig-tree at the return of Christ produces leaves, but there is no mention of fruit. Then, the reference to “all the trees” in that same passage is ostensibly an allegory for “all the heathen”, or nations, in Obadiah 15.
“When they say ‘Peace’ and ‘Security’, then suddenly destruction comes upon them, even as a labor pang to her who is with child. And by no means shall they escape.” Ostensibly, once the enemies of Christ believe that they no longer have formidable opposition from the people of God, destruction will indeed come upon them. This opinion is substantiated in Isaiah chapter 26. Making a reference to the pangs of childbirth, Paul entices us to look more closely at Scripture concerning the promised “Day of the Lord” and the deliverance of Israel, where we find a similar reference in Isaiah the prophet. The children of Israel and Judah had already been warned by the prophet of their impending destruction and captivity. But in Isaiah 26 we see a prophecy of deliverance and salvation, where the chapter begins by saying “1 In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah [which is not necessarily in Palestine]; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. 2 Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.”
Then, a little later in Isaiah chapter 26, where we may clearly see that this is a reference to post-captivity Israel in the last days: “15 Thou hast increased the nation, O LORD, thou hast increased the nation: thou art glorified: thou hadst removed it far unto all the ends of the earth. 16 LORD, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them. [A prophecy that the dispersed of Israel would pray to God in their future time of trouble.] 17 Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O LORD. [In the last days, the children of Israel are greatly oppressed, with pain compared to a woman in travail.] 18 We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen. [Man cannot save himself, and requires the intervention of his God. This also corresponds to the similar sins of the ancient kingdom, where it says in Hosea chapter 8, ‘7 For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.’ So it says here that the children of Israel have had no profit in their sowing. Where Isaiah says “neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen”, meaning that Israel is being oppressed by them, Hosea says of what Israel had sowed, that “the strangers shall swallow it up”, which also corresponds to what Obadiah described as the heathens drinking upon Yahweh’s holy mountain.] 19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. [A reference to the resurrection of Israel at the Second Advent of Christ. Here in 1 Thessalonians Paul is describing, or perhaps summarizing, what Isaiah had already described long before him.] 20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. [The children of Israel shall be somehow sheltered from the wrath of God, as Paul says here that “Yahweh has not ordained us for wrath”.] 21 For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. [They shall be as though they had never been.]” This is the Rapture of the Wicked, the Edomite Jews and all of the other races whom the Jews have brought in to oppress the children of Israel shall be destroyed. But in the end, as it is described here in Isaiah, the children of Israel are punished until they repent of their sins, until they acknowledge their errors, and repent and return to their God. Yahweh God had also foretold of these things through Jeremiah the prophet, in a somewhat different way, where He said in Jeremiah chapter 30: “11 For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.” There is a similar statement in Jeremiah chapter 46.
The prophetic glue that holds these assertions together and also relates them to what is happening in the world today is found in several places, but especially in the Revelation, in chapters 12 and 20.
First there is Revelation chapter 12, where it speaks of the dragon, which is also described as the serpent, the devil, and as Satan and his angels who were cast out of heaven, and which is identified with the same dragon who had attempted to kill the Christ child, something that can only describe Herod, the Edomite Jew. There it says: “13 And when the dragon saw that he had been cast down into the earth, he persecuted the woman who had given birth to the man-child. 14 And they had given to the woman the two wings of a great eagle, in order that she may fly into the desert into her place, where she is nourished there for a time and times and half of a time from the face of the serpent. 15, And the serpent had cast from his mouth water as a river after the woman, in order that he may have her carried off by the river. 16 And the earth assisted the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and gulped down the river which the dragon had cast from his mouth. 17 And the dragon was angered by the woman and went to make war with those remaining of her offspring who keep the commandments of Yahweh and have the testimony of Yahshua.” This last part describes where we have been in history these past few hundred years, as the Edomite Jew has been making war against Christendom.
Then in Revelation chapter 20 we see another prophecy: “7 And when the thousand years are completed, the Adversary [or Satan] shall be released from his prison 8 and shall go out to deceive the Nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them to battle, of which the number of them is as the sand of the sea. [These are all the heathen of Obadiah verses 15 and 16.] 9 And they had gone up upon the breadth of the earth and encircled the encampment of the saints and the beloved city, and fire descended from out of heaven and devoured them. 10 And the False Accuser [or Devil] who deceived them is cast into the lake of fire and sulfur where are also the beast and the false prophet, and they shall be tormented day and night for the eternal ages.”
Along these same lines, the prophecy which we had read from Isaiah chapter 26 is continued in Isaiah chapter 27, where it says of the “Day of the Lord”: “1 In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea. [This describes the ancient Kenites, Rephaim, Edomite Jews and others, all of whom are still with us as bastards and Jews.] 2 In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine. 3 I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day. 4 Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? [This describes the ancient Canaanite bastards, including the arabs.] I would go through them, I would burn them together. 5 Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me. 6 He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.” Once the prophecy of Obadiah is fulfilled, there will be no obstacles to Israel filling the face of the world with fruit.
But ostensibly, the “fire come down from heaven” of Isaiah is described differently in Obadiah, where it says that “the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble.” That Christ shall fulfill His judgement through His people is evident elsewhere, both in Micah and in the Revelation. For instance, in Micah chapter 4, where it also very clearly prophecies of post-captivity Israel: “11 Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion. [The “holy mountain” of Obadiah.] 12 But they know not the thoughts of the LORD, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor. [The Rapture of the Wicked.] 13 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the LORD, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.”
Likewise we see a similar prophecy in Isaiah chapter 41: “8 But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. 9 Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. 10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. 11 Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. 12 Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. [As Obadiah says, “they shall be as though they had never been”.] 13 For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. 14 Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. 15 Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. 16 Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the LORD, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel.”
The participation of the people of Christ in this judgment is also spoken of in the Revelation, at the fall of Mystery Babylon, and it says “4 And I heard another voice from out of heaven, saying: ‘You come out from her, My people, that you should not partake in her errors, and that you would not receive from of her wounds, 5 because her errors have built up as far as heaven and Yahweh has called to mind her injustices! 6 You return to her as she also had rendered, and you double twice the things according to her works. In the cup which she had mixed, you mix double for her! 7 As much as she had magnified herself and lived wantonly, so much you give torment and grief to her! Because in her heart she says that 'I sit a queen and I am not a widow and I have not seen grief', 8 for this reason in one day shall her plagues come: death and grief and famine, and she shall be burned with fire, because mighty is Prince Yahweh who judges her!’” The very next vision in the Revelation is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, which is the destruction of all of the enemies of Christ in a great slaughter.
As we had noticed from the writings of the early Christian bishops Irenaeus and Cyprian when we were discrediting the denominational Christian claims concerning the Rapture, these early writers believed that the saints would indeed face a great battle here on earth at the end of the time of the Anti-Christ. They did not understand exactly when this would occur, which is in keeping with Scripture, and they imagined that the Anti-Christ was an individual, rather than a race, a collection, of individuals. However we understand that the Anti-Christ is a collection of individuals who are born that way, and therefore in that respect they are a race, as the apostle John also describes in his epistles. In 1 John chapter 4 and 2 John chapter 1 he explains that the Anti-Christs are those who deny Jesus as the Christ. In 1 John chapter 2 he says: “18 Little children, it is the last hour, and just as you have heard that the Antichrist comes, even now many Antichrists have been born, from which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They came out from us but they were not from of us. For if they were from of us, they would have abided with us, but so that they would be made manifest that they are all not from of us.” In that last verse, the apostle identifies the Anti-Christ as the Edomite Jew, where he says “They came out from us but they were not from of us”, meaning that they were not actually Israelites, as Paul of Tarsus also identifies them as Edomites in Romans chapter 9. These are the Jews of today, whom Yahweh had driven into all nations to be a taunt and a proverb, a curse and a reproach, as it says in Jeremiah.
Nevertheless, Irenaeus had said in his Against Heresies, Book 5 chapter 29, describing the poor condition of the world under the rule of the Anti-Christ: “‘There shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be.’ For this is the last contest of the righteous, in which, when they overcome they are crowned with incorruption.” On this same subject he then added in chapter 30 of the same book: “But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom, that is, the rest, the hallowed seventh day [Paul also speaks of it as being in the future in Hebrews]; and restoring to Abraham the promised inheritance, in which kingdom the Lord declared, that “many coming from the east and from the west should sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Likewise, Cyprian, in his Epistle 55, To the People of Thibaris, an exhortation to martyrdom, describes the battle against the Antichrist in the last days which he understood that Christians had to face, and which he also believed was imminent: “For you ought to know and to believe, and hold it for certain, that the day of affliction has begun to hang over our heads, and the end of the world and the time of Antichrist to draw near, so that we must all stand prepared for the battle; nor consider anything but the glory of life eternal, and the crown of the confession of the Lord; and not regard those things which are coming as being such as were those which have passed away. A severer and a fiercer fight is now threatening, for which the soldiers of Christ ought to prepare themselves with uncorrupted faith and robust courage, considering that they drink the cup of Christ’s blood daily, for the reason that they themselves also may be able to shed their blood for Christ.”
So while we do not agree with everything which the early Christian writers had taught, since they looked to an individual Anti-Christ as opposed to the collective Anti-Christ described by the apostle John, we do see that they understood that the last great battle here on earth would be fought by the people of Christ, as we have seen is indeed promised in Obadiah 18, Micah chapter 4, Isaiah chapter 41, and Revelation chapter 18. Paul likewise advised the Corinthians, in chapter 10 of his second epistle to them, to be sober-minded, “5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” So Paul of Tarsus certainly would have agreed. And while he does not explicitly state such a thing here, he does warn the Thessalonians to be sober-minded and prepared, over these next several verses:
4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should surprise you as thieves. 5 All of you are sons of light and sons of day; we [D has “you”] are not of night or of darkness.
John explains in chapter 1 of his first epistle what it is that Paul makes reference to here: “5 And this is the message which we have heard from Him and we announce to you: that Yahweh is light and there is not any darkness in Him. 6 If we should say that we have fellowship with Him and we would walk in darkness, we lie and we do not practice the truth. 7 But if we would walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of His Son Yahshua cleanses us from all sin.”
6 So then we should not sleep as the rest; rather we should be alert and we should be sober. 7 For those falling asleep, by night they fall asleep, and those getting drunk, by night they get drunk.
Here again Paul is referring to what Christ Himself had said in the Gospel. From Luke chapter 21, where Christ had again spoken to His apostles in reference to His opposition in Judaea: “29 Then He spoke a parable to them: "See the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When already they have cast forth, seeing it for yourselves you know that already the harvest is near. 31 Thusly also you, when you should see these things happening, you know that the Kingdom of Yahweh is near. 32 Truly I say to you that by no means should this race escape until all things come to be. 33 The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but these words of Mine shall by no means pass away! 34 "Now watch yourselves, that at no time should your hearts be weighed down with hangovers and drunkenness and the cares of life, and suddenly that day should come upon you 35 like a snare! For it shall come upon all those sitting upon the face of all the earth.” As it says in Revelation 18:4, in part: “You come out from her, My people, that you should not partake in her errors, and that you would not receive from of her wounds...” So when the children of Israel hear the call, they must be alert to understand it, but failing, they will suffer along with the others as Christ had warned here, “and suddenly that day should come upon you like a snare!” Therefore Paul continues:
8 But we being of day should be sober, putting on a breastplate of faith and love, and a helmet: an expectation of deliverance.
While Christian faith and love should be expressed in action, in the works which Christians do for the benefit of their brethren and their Christian communities, here Paul once again reminds us, albeit indirectly, of how Christians should attain to the obedience that Yahweh God requires so that they may “avenge all disobedience”, as he had written in 2 Corinthians chapter 10. He does this by using language that evokes the words of Isaiah the prophet, found in Isaiah chapter 59, which are a Messianic prophecy and which are related to Paul’s subject here. Reading them, once again we must realize just how evil the world will be before Christians finally turn to their God and cry out for deliverance: “15 Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. [Today Christians who wish to do well and live righteously make themselves legal targets of the enemies of our God.] 16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. [The theme here is that no man can save us from this predicament, so God Himself must do it.] 17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke. 18 According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence.” Christians do indeed have an expectation of deliverance by their God, and if they did not, deliverance would be impossible. Thusly Paul continues:
9 Because Yahweh has not ordained us for wrath, but for the acquisition of preservation through our Prince Yahshua Christ [P30 wants “Christ”], 10 who died on behalf of us, that whether we would be alert or we would sleep, together with Him we would live.
Perhaps awake may have been a better rendering than alert here, depending on one’s point of view and level of awareness in reference to what Paul is saying. The word bears either meaning. If we read the word (γρηγορεύω, Strong’s # 1127) as alert, we may perceive that he is speaking of all of those of Israel who are living, and that those sleeping are the ones caught up in the cares of the world, or weighed down with drunkenness, as Christ had warned in Luke chapter 21, which we have just cited. However if we read the word as awake, we may perceive that he is speaking of those who have died, where he had spoken of their resurrection in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. Either reading is valid, since we indeed have another assurance in Scripture, that all Israel shall be saved.
11 On which account you encourage one another, and you build up one another [literally “build up one the one”], even just as you do.
Here Paul commended the Christians at Thessalonika for engaging in the building of Christian community, which is the edification in support and encouragement of one’s Christian brethren. Paul explained that “Christ died on behalf of us” as a reminder that Christians in turn should also live on behalf of their brethren. Self-sacrifice for the benefit of one’s kindred and community is a Christian ideal.
12 Now we ask you, brethren, to know those who are laboring among you, and being set before you in authority and admonishing you, 13 and to esteem them with love beyond excess on account of their work. Live peaceably among yourselves.
The 3rd century papyrus P30, and the Codices Sinaiticus (א) and Claromontanus (D) have the last clause to read “Live peaceably among them.” The text follows the Codices Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B). If the alternate reading is accepted, ostensibly the phrase would refer to “those who are laboring among you, and being set before you in authority and admonishing you”, and therefore the effect would be the same since such people should indeed come from one’s own community.
14 But we exhort you, brethren, admonish the undisciplined, encourage those of little spirit, put up with those who are weak, be patient towards all.
Paul is not saying, as the King James Version has it, to support those who are weak. In fact, in his second epistle to the Thessalonians he said “that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” Rather, the Greek word ἀντέχομαι (Strong’s # 472) is “to hold against... .to hold out against, withstand, [or] to endure”, according to Liddell & Scott. So by the weak here, Paul is referring to those same people that he had described in Romans chapter 14 or 1 Corinthians chapter 8, for instance where he said “9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak”, and then “12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.” So here he admonishes the Thessalonians to endure the weak amongst them.
In his analogy of the parts of the body of Christ, Paul spoke of the weak, the undisciplined, those of little spirit, the lesser men and women among us, and he concluded “23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.” So here he continues to further admonish in that same manner:
15 Watch that one does not render evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue good both towards one another and towards all. 16 Always rejoice.
Of course, Paul is speaking of Christian deportment towards one’s fellow Christians. A signal example is in Leviticus chapter 19: “18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” But the first example is in the rhetorical question attributed to Cain, which represents a test that Cain himself had failed, where he had asked “Am I my brother's keeper?” And of course, if a man is truly your brother, you have an obligation to be his keeper.
17 Pray incessantly. 18 In everything, be thankful, for this is the will of Yahweh in Christ Yahshua for you.
The Christian should learn to fuse his prayer and his thought. In that manner, as Paul said in 2 Corinthians chapter 10, one may indeed bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Christ Himself said to His apostles in the hour of darkness: “Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”
Writing much later than he is here, Paul had given the Ephesians similar admonitions, in chapter 5 of that epistle where he told them “15 So then watch precisely how you walk, not as the stupid, but as the wise, 16 Buying the time, because the days are evil. 17 For this reason do not be foolish, rather understand what is the will of the Prince. 18 And do not be intoxicated with wine, in which there is abandonment, rather you be filled with the Spirit, 19 talking to yourselves with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Prince. 20 At all times being thankful for all things in the name of our Prince, Yahshua Christ, to Yahweh, even the Father. 21 Subject yourselves to one another in fear of Christ….”
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise expounding of scripture, 21 but scrutinize all things. Hold fast that which is right.
The Greek word σβέννυμι (Strong’s # 4570) is literally quench here, where the sense surely would allow such words as inhibit or suppress. Paul used the word again in Ephesians chapter 6 in reference to quenching the “fiery darts of the wicked.” The Greek word προφητεία is a noun, and here it is “expounding of scripture”, but is usually and literally prophecy. Prophecy can mean one of three things in the New Testament: the revelation of things not normally known (John 4:19, 1 Corinthians 14:25), the interpreting of Scripture (1 Timothy 4:14), as the Greeks understood the word to mean “the gift of interpreting the will of the gods” (Liddell & Scott), and lastly, the relation of the Word of God foretelling future events, as the Old Testament prophets had done.
There is a story in Numbers chapter 26 which is exemplary of Paul’s admonitions here: “16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. 17 And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.... 24 And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle. 25 And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.26 But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp. 27 And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. 28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. 29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD'S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!”
So while Christians must not repress the gifts of the spirit which are in their fellows, they must nevertheless “scrutinize all things”. The yardstick for that scrutiny is found in Acts chapter 17 and the response to the Gospel by the Bereans, who “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
22 Abstain from every sort of wickedness.
We read in Psalm 28: “3 Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts.” Therefore the Scripture says in Isaiah chapter 57: “20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. 21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” However abstaining from wickedness the children of Israel have an assurance of peace, as the Gospel itself announces: “Honor to Yahweh in the heights, and peace upon the earth among approved men.” So Paul also encourages:
23 Now may Yahweh of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your perfect spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Prince Yahshua Christ.
We amended the word order slightly at the beginning of this verse. The inference is that God Himself is a God of peace. That is true, once it is understood that peace requires the observance of His law. The true peacekeepers are those who keep His law, and the true peacemakers are those who exhort men to keep His law.
As Christ had said in Matthew chapter 5: “9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” And as it says in the Proverbs: “He that winks with his eyes deceitfully, procures griefs for men; but he that reproves boldly is a peacemaker” (Proverbs 10:10, from the Septuagint).
Paul informs Christians how to remain blameless until the Day of the Lord, in Philippians chapter 2: “14 Do all things apart from murmuring and disputing, 15 that you would be perfect and with unmixed blood, blameless children of Yahweh in the midst of a race crooked and perverted - among whom you appear as luminaries in the Society, 16 upholding the Word of Life for a boast with me in the day of Christ, that not in vain have I run nor in vain have I labored.”
24 He calling you is trustworthy, Who will also produce. 25 Brethren, you also pray for us.
And as we hope to have exhibited in our first segment of this presentation of 1 Thessalonians, those who are called are called because they are of the children of the ancient Israelites whom Yahweh God had promised to call. If Yahweh is indeed trustworthy, then the people who are called in Christ are the same people He promised to call in the Old Testament. Otherwise, He is not trustworthy. But Identity Christians know that God is true.
26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. 27 I adjure you by the Prince: the letter is to be read to all the [A and the MT interpolate “holy”; the text follows א, B, and D] brethren.
This final verse indicates that there may have been some division among the Thessalonians concerning these things, which Paul had not previously mentioned, and which perhaps hoped to rectify by his answers here.
28 The favor of our Prince Yahshua Christ is with you [א, A, and the MT ἀμήν, “Truly” or “Amen”, at the end of this verse; the text follows B and D].
This concludes our presentation of Paul’s first epistle to the Thessalonians. Praise Yahweh, for there will indeed be a rapture of the wicked.