ED HINDSON: Appearing of Jesus Christ  

  Appearing of Jesus Christ
By Dr. Ed Hindson
Missouri Baptist College
St. Louis,
1996 conference:  Pre-Trib Study Group

The New Testament clearly teaches that Jesus Christ will "come again" (John14:3) and "appear the second time" (Hebrews 9:38). At least nine biblical terms are used in the New Testament to describe the return of Christ.[1]

The author has summarized the Greek words used to refer to the second coming of Christ, and there is no need to repeat that summary here.
What should be obvious from the examination of these several words, is that there is only ONE SECOND COMING. And it is not the descent of Jesus that is described at Revelation 19.
A more detailed analysis of the second coming and the words used can be found at:
1. The Second Coming According to Jesus.
2. The Second Coming According to the Apostles.

Also, the affinity between the second coming and the rapture will be shown below.

The Bible predicts the literal personal return of Jesus Christ to rapture His church, to judge the world and to establish His Kingdom on earth. At times this is described as one grand event. At other times it is clearly divided into separate phases.

This is a claim that cannot be substantiated in the New Testament. Every mention of the second coming refers to His initial ARRIVAL in the clouds of the sky in power and great glory.
There is no scriptural distinction between His arrival in the clouds and His arrival IN GLORY.
The apostolic church was looking for ONE second coming, and all the passages are referring to that ONE coming.
The descent to the earth at Revelation 19 to engage the armies at Armageddon (first to
Edom and then to Zion), is not the second coming. It is one of the things that will happen DURING His Second coming; during His presence (parousia), which will occur at the 6th seal. This arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky as per Matthew 24:29-31 and 1 Thes. 4:14-17and 2 Thes. 1:6-10 is the second coming. And the FIRST thing that will happen at that time will be the rapture of the saints.

1. Personal. The intensive pronoun "himself" means the Lord and no other, as in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven."
2. Literal. He will return as He ascended literally. Acts
1:11 promises: "This same Jesus, who is taken up from you, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven." Revelation 1:7 promises that "every eye shall see him."

YES. And the promise at Revelation 1:7 is given TO THE CHURCH.

3. Glorious. He will return in the glory of His deity. Matthew 16:27, "in the glory of his Father." Matthew 25:31, "in his glory." Matthew 24:30, "...great glory."

YES! And 2 Thes. 1:7 and 10 speak of that glory when He comes to give relief to THE CHURCH.
And Titus
2:13 indicates that the blessed hope of the church is “the appearing of the GLORY of the great God and our Savior, Christ Jesus.”
This is the rapture.

4. Powerful. Jesus will return in the "glory of his power" (2 Thessalonians 1:9). He will employ angels of power (1:7) to establish His Kingdom on earth as He comes with His angelic heavenly escort (Matthew 25:31).

YES! But this is the SAME second coming that is promised to the church at 2Thes. 1:7, when the believers at that time will be given relief “at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.”
This is the rapture.

Most evangelicals agree as to the nature of Christ's return, but there is substantial disagreement on the time of His coming. Notice these key aspects of the time of our Lord's return:
3. Imminent. The return of Christ is always described as potentially imminent or "at hand" (Revelation 1:3; 22:10). Every generation of believers is warned to be ready for His coming. Luke 12:40, "be... ready also: for the Son of Man comes at an hour you think not." Believers are constantly urged to look for the coming of the Lord (see Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 9:28; Titus 2:13; 1Thessalonians 5:6).

Once again, another pretribber uses the teachings of Jesus to refer to the rapture when they claim over and over that the reference to the second coming in His teachings refers to His physical descent at Armageddon.
And if it is “allowed” to use Luke 12:40 to refer to the rapture, it is equally valid to use Matthew 24:29-51 as a reference to the rapture, which, of course, it is. IN FACT, the parable of Luke 12:39-40 is the very same parable of Matthew 24:43-44. And that makes the second coming that is described at Matthew 24:29-31 the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky AFTER the tribulation to rapture His church out from the earth and give them relief as at 2Thes. 1:6-10.
Thus, it is NOT imminent.
See: The 8 blows to imminence

4. Distant. From God's perspective, Jesus is coming at any moment. But from the human perspective it has already been nearly 2,000 years. Jesus hinted at this in the Olivet Discourse in the illustration of the man who traveled into a "far country" (heaven) and was gone "a long time" (Matthew 25:19).Peter also implies this in his prediction that men will begin to scoff at the second coming after a long period of time (2 Peter 3:8-9).

That paragraph, my friends, is totally inconsistent! If the Bible indicates that something, ANYTHING, will occur before the return of Christ, then it is NOT imminent. As my insert above indicates (The 8 blows to imminence), The second coming of Christ, the rapture, COULD NOT occur prior to 70 AD because Jesus prophesied of the destruction of Jerusalem BEFORE He comes. And likewise, the rapture could not occur between 70 AD and some future time when Israel would be back in the land, which turned out to be 1948. And according to the teaching of Jesus, His return will not occur until AFTER the abomination of desolation stands in the Holy place of a Jewish temple (Mat. 24:9-31 and context; 2 Thes. 2:1-3).
Actually, imminence can only exist AFTER the “signs of summer” have occurred. It is after THAT that He can come back at any moment, like a thief in the night, and no one can know the day or the hour.

5. Undated. While the Rapture is the next major event on the prophetic calendar, it is undated as is the glorious appearing of Christ. Jesus said: "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, not even the angels of heaven" (Matthew24:36). Later he added: "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons"(Acts 1:7).

But at verse 36, Jesus was talking about the second coming that He just mentioned in verses 29-31!
”But immediately after the tribulation of those days (which will start at the midpoint of the week and BE CUT SHORT before the end of the week), the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”

It is THAT arrival that will occur at an unknown day or hour, and like a thief in the night, at which time the rapture will occur. The Apostolic rapture passages do not tell us HOW the gathering will occur. Here, Jesus tells us that the gathering will be conducted by His angels.
As far as Acts 1:7 goes, it was not for them to know AT THAT TIME. However, Paul later taught us that we DO KNOW the season. 1 Thes. 5:1-3. It is the season when the vast majority of unbelievers on the earth will be proclaiming peace and safety through association with the antichrist.

6. Unexpected. The mass of humanity will not be looking for Christ when He returns (Matthew 24:50; Luke 21:35). They will be saying, "peace and safety," when caught unprepared by His return. So unexpected will be His return that, "as a snare shall it come upon them that dwell on the whole face of the earth" (Luke

Correct! But this is IN THE CONTEXT of the reign of the beast (antichrist), during the tribulation of those days. Those who take the mark of the beast will be enjoying the benefits of economic freedom (buying and selling), and will be living in peace and security under the umbrella of the beast’s promises and protection.
Notice the references Mr. Hindson uses. Once again, he uses Matthew 24 to refer to the rapture – WHICH IS CORRECT by the way. However, ALL OF MATTHEW 24, from verse 29 and following, must also be talking about the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky, at which time the rapture will occur.

7. Sudden. The Bible warns that Jesus will come "as a thief in the night (and) then sudden destruction" will come upon the unbelieving world (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3).His return for the Bride will occur in a flash: "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye... for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead (believers) shall be raised incorruptible, and we (living believers) shall be changed"(1 Corinthians 15:52).

Again, all of this is perfectly consistent with what Jesus taught in Matthew 24


The Second Coming of Christ is a series of events fulfilling all end-time prophecies. These include predictions of Christ's coming for His Church and with His Church. Pretribulationalists generally divide the Second Coming into two main phases: the Rapture of the Church and the Glorious Appearing of Christ.

This division is not accurate as I have indicated earlier in this critique. The glorious appearing of Christ IS His arrival in “the clouds of the sky with power and great glory” (Mat. 24:30), “with His mighty angels in flaming fire” (2Thes. 1:7), and is “the appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior, Christ Jesus,” (Titus 2:13).
They confuse Christ’s descent at Armageddon with His INITIAL arrival in glory. The descent at Armageddon is simply an additional event that occurs DURING the time span of Christ’s PRESENCE (parousia). The teaching in the Old Testament stressed Christ’s initial arrival with the term THE DAY OF THE LORD; Armageddon is simply one of the final judgments that occur DURING the Day of the Lord.

Hindson: The hope of the Church is the Rapture. She awaits the Savior who is coming for His bride. The Church does not await the destruction of the world as unbelievers do, she awaits a Person. Peter explains that the present world is "reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men (2 Peter 3:7, italics added). While the Church is warned to prepare for suffering and persecution throughout the Church Age, she is not as the object of God's final wrath.

Actually, what the church is waiting for and looking for is the arrival of Jesus, which is identified with THE DAY OF THE LORD. That very context in 2 Peter 3 tells us that we are to be looking for and “promoting the advance of” (This is the significance of the verb, spoudo, since we cannot actually SPEED UP the arrival of Christ’s return.) the day of God, which is the same thing as the Day of the Lord in the context.
As we look for the arrival of Jesus at the inception of the Day of the Lord, we are likewise anticipating the events that will result from His arrival, i.e., the new heavens and new earth.

Hindson: The Church is promised that the "coming of the Lord" will result in her being "gathered together" (Greek, episunagoges) into him" (2Thessalonians 2: 1).[2] It is this promise of the Rapture, not the Wrath, that is in view in Revelation 3:10,"I will keep you from (Greek, ek "out of") the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world." Notice that the Church is to be kept from not through, the hour of tribulation. We are to wait for Jesus to come from heaven to "deliver us form the wrath to come" (1Thessalonians 1:10).

The hour of trial is not identified as “the hour of tribulation.” It is actually referring to the Day of the Lord, which will begin when Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. The use of the preposition, ek, cannot answer the rapture issue in and of itself. The entire list of passages must be consulted to determine the proper timing of the rapture. And once that is done, then the only reasonable meaning for “the day of trial” is the Day of the Lord judgments which begin at the firs trumpet.
For detailed explanation see my commentary on Revelation 3:10.

By combining John 14:1-3, I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, Tim LaHaye suggests the following sequence of events:[3]

1. Jesus Christ descends from heaven (John 14:1-3; I Thess. 4:16).
2. He comes to receive us (church) unto Himself (John
3. He comes in the "twinkling of an eye" (1 Cor.
15:52) with a shout and the trumpet call of God (1 Thess. 4:16).
4. He resurrects those believers who have "fallen asleep" in death (1 Thess.
4:14- 15).
5. Those who are alive at that time will be "caught up" (Rapture) with the resurrected Church in the clouds (1 Thess. 4:17; 1 Cor. 15:51-53).

This is an accurate summary of the passages listed. However, Mr. LaHaye does not include all the rapture passages, and in fact, leaves out some very important ones. Let’s add some passages and some points.
2 Thesssalonians 2:6-10; Titus 2:13

1. Jesus Christ descends from heaven (John 14:1-3; I Thess. 4:16).
Add 2 Thes. 1:6-10.

1a. He comes to GIVE RELIEF to the believers who are being persecuted.
1b. He comes WITH His mighty angels in flaming fire.
This is the rapture.

2. He comes to receive us (church) unto Himself (John 14:13).
3. He comes in the "twinkling of an eye" (1 Cor.
15:52) with a shout and the trumpet call of God (1 Thess. 4:16). Add Titus 2:13
3a. His arrival is THE APPEARANCE of the GLORY of  the great God and our Savior, Christ Jesus.
This is the Rapture.

4. He resurrects those believers who have "fallen asleep" in death (1 Thess.
4:14- 15).
If we include 1 Cor. 15:51-52 and John 5:23 here and understand that “fellow citizens with the saints” at Ephesians 2:19 refers to OLD TESTAMENT believers, then ALL believers being raised refers to BOTH  Old and New Testament saints. This does not violate dispensations, but understanding that, requires more than just a few sentences.
See PreWrath and Dispensations

Hindson: The Rapture will be followed by:
1. Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:20; 1 Cor.
3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10) and
2. Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7-9).
These two events precede the return of Christ in power and glory at Armageddon (Rev.19:11-21).

This is an erroneous statement. The two events mentioned precede the descent of Jesus to the earth at Armageddon, but they DO NOT precede His return in power and glory.
Of course, Matthew 24:30 is disputed, even though Hindson is very inconsistent with his interpretation of Matthew 24, but 2 Thes. 1:6-7 and Titus 2:13 establish beyond any doubt, that the GLORIOUS appearing of Christ and the POWERFUL appearing of Christ IS IN FACT, what the church is looking for and at which time the rapture will occur.
Dispensational “tunnel vision” has prevented the pretribbers from recognizing that there is ONLY ONE second coming of Christ and it is that one second coming that both Jesus and the apostles taught about and which is the hope and expectation of the church. The descent at Armageddon is a secondary event in the events of the parousia of Christ.


These comparisons have long been promoted, but they are inconsistent and do not represent the passages accurately. The comparisons made are not accurate.


1. Christ comes for His own (John 14:1-3; IThess.4:17; 2Thess.2:1).
1. Christ comes with His own (1 Thess. 3:13; Jude 14; Rev.19:14).

First of all, how does Mr. Hindson justify using 1Thes. 3:13 as a reference to the descent of Jesus at Armageddon? It is referring to the arrival of Jesus that the church is looking for – the rapture.
Secondly, the word “saints” in 2Thes. 3:13 and Jude 14 MOST LIKELY refers to ANGELS and not believers. It is HOLY ONES, and perfectly corresponds with 2 Thes. 1:7.
The second coming of Christ taught in the Old Testament looked at it from the standpoint of its START, which would initiate the Day of the Lord judgments. Those judgments will take some time to administer (at LEAST 5 months), and will culminate with the confrontation at Armageddon. Sometimes the reference to the second coming would look beyond the initial arrival of the Messiah and look to one or more of the judgments, especially the Armageddon campaign.
The reference at Jude 14 refers to the initial arrival of the Messiah, which is the ONE second coming, and was taught by Jesus and the apostles as the one and same event.
At Rev. 19:14, the reference to “the armies” does not refer to the believers coming back with Christ.
NO ONE brings their bride into battle. She waits at home for his return in victory.
The angels of God are ALSO clothed in white linen (Rev. 15:6).

2. He comes in the air (1 Thess. 4:17)
2. He comes to the earth  Zech.14:4;  Acts1:11).

All this does is contrast His initial arrival, which is IN GLORY and IN POWER, with His physical descent to the earth much later at Armageddon. Zechariah is talking about Armageddon, certainly, but it is not talking about the initial arrival in the clouds, which is what Jesus taught about at Matthew 24 and is the hope and expectation of the church. In addition, Acts 1:11 is a promise TO THE CHURCH and refers to His arrival TO the earth IN THE CLOUDS. It does not require a physical descent ONTO the earth. These nuances need to be recognized and understood in order to properly interpret all the passages involved.

3. He claims His bride
3. He comes with His bride (Rev.19:6-14).

Again, this is an assumption that the armies of Rev. 19 refers to the bride. Those armies are angels.
To repeat, a groom (husband) does not and will not bring his bride into battle. And there is no place in Scripture that indicates the bride will function in physical combat during Armageddon.

4. Removal of believers(1 Thess 4:17).
4. Manifestation of Christ (Mal. 4:2).

Seems like in irrelevant comparison to me.

5. Only His own see Him (1 Thess. 4:13-18)
5. Every eye shall see Him  (Rev. 1:7).

This fails to recognize that if Jesus comes in GLORY and POWER and with His mighty angels in flaming fire, that IT WILL BE VISIBLE (2 Thes. 1:6-10) so of course every eye will see Him. Mat. 24:30; Acts 1:11.
Revelation 1:7 is a promise TO THE CHURCH in context.
And WHERE is there any statement in Scripture that even hints at the idea that ONLY His own will see Him?

6. Tribulation begins.
6. Millennial Kingdom begins.

The tribulation does not BEGIN at the arrival of Jesus to rapture the saints. It occurs AFTER the tribulation has been cut short by the decree of God. Mat. 24:15-29; 2Thes. 1:6-10

7. Saved are delivered from wrath (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9)
7. Unsaved experience the wrath of God  (Rev. 6:12-17).

This fails to recognize that the tribulation is NOT the wrath of God, but that the wrath of God begins AFTER the tribulation and when the Lord begins to pour out his judgments on the earth.
It also places the 6th seal (Rev. 6:12-17) within the tribulation, when according to Matthew 24:29-30 and Joel 2:31, it is AFTER the tribulation when the Day of the Lord begins.

8. No signs precede Rapture (1 Thess. 5:1-3).
8. Signs precede glorious appearing  (Luke
21:11, 15).

Again, this simply ignores the pertinent passages. We have already seen how Mr. Hindson is inconsistent in his interpretation of Matthew 24 by trying to find TWO comings there (an arrival at Armageddon and a rapture). According to Jesus and by comparing with all the passages involved, there WILL BE signs that must precede the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky in power and great glory, at which time He will use the angels to complete the rapture event.
Again, I want to take exception with Mr. Hindson’s (and pretribbers in general) who fail to recognize that the arrival of Jesus at the rapture IS A, and in fact, THE glorious appearing. 2 Thes. 1:6-10; Titus 2:13

9. Focus: Lord and Church (1 Thess. 4:13-18).
9. Focus:
Israel and Kingdom  (Matthew 24:14).

This indicates a misunderstanding of the kingdom of God. The gospel of the kingdom is in fact the gospel of salvation from sin through faith in Christ. Acts 1:3; 8:12; 19:8; 20:25; 28:13,31
It also perpetuates the error that Jesus was SOMEHOW addressing Jews instead of His disciples who were the founders and representatives of the coming church. What Jesus taught was FOR THE CHURCH, and not for the nation of Israel. This does not violate dispensational theology, as discussed before.

NOW – Let’s look at a Biblical comparison of the second coming passages and see that there is one ONE SECOND COMING, and the descent to the earth at Armageddon is NOT a separate coming, but an extension of the ONE coming that will occur probably many months prior to Armageddon.

It begins with the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the SKY with power and great glory (Mat. 24:30).
It is at this time that the rapture of the church will occur (Mat. 24:32; 1 Thes. 4:14-17).
In the Book of Revelation, this occurs at the 6th seal.
After this Jesus will mete out judgment upon the unbelievers who are left on the earth via the trumpet and bowl judgments, which will take many months. Jesus will then physically descend to the earth and defeat Satan and the antichrist at the Armageddon campaign.

The purpose of this outline is to show that the second coming of Jesus taught at Matthew 24:29-51 is the SAME second coming that was taught by the apostles as the blessed hope of the church, at which time the rapture of the church will occur.

More details can be found in the detailed analysis of the teachings of Jesus and the apostles.
The Second Advent According to Jesus
The Second Advent According to the Apostles

The following is an outline of the points of affinity between the second coming and the rapture.

SON OF MAN: Mat. 16:27; 10:23; 24:31
The title, Son of Man, is just as valid for a New Testament orientation as any Old Testament orientation.
The use of the title in and of itself does not mean that the church is not involved.
John 3:13-14;  5:27; 6:27;  6:53; 8:28; 9:35; 12:23; 12:34; 13:31; Acts 7:56

Second Advent: Mat. 16:27,
10:23; 24:31;
Rapture: John 14:3;
21:22; Acts 1:11; 1Cor. 4:5; 11:26;
1Thes. 5:2; 2Thes.
1:10; Rev. 1:7; 3:11;

Second Advent: Mat. 16:27; Mat. 24:31;
Rapture: Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 4:13

Second Advent: Mat. 16:27; 24:31;
Rapture: 2 Thes. 1:7; 1 Thes. 4:16 (angel); 1 Thes.
3:13? (holy ones);

Second Advent: Mat. 16:27;
Rapture: 1 Cor. 4:5; 1 Pet. 1:7; 1 Peter 5:4;

Second Advent: Mat 24:42-44;
Rapture: 1 Thes. 5:2-11; 2 Pet. 3:10-18; Rev. 3:3; Rev. 16:15

Second Advent: Mat. 24:31;
Rapture: 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thes. 4:16

Second Advent: Mat. 24:31;
Rapture: Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thes. 4:17; Rev. 1:7

Second Advent: Mat. 24:31;
Rapture: 2 Thes. 2:1; 1 Thes. 4:17 (different word, same idea)

TAKEN: (paralambano)
Second Advent: Mat. 24:40-41;
Rapture: John 14:1-3; 1 Thes. 4:17 (different word, same idea).

REVEALED: (word group, apokalupto, apokalupsis)
Second Advent: Luke 17:30;
Rapture: 1Cor. 1:7; 1Pet. 1:7; 1:13;
4:13; Col. 3:4;

PRESENCE: (parouosia)
Second Advent: Mat. 24:3, 27, 37, 39;
Rapture: 1 Thes.
2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2Thes. 2:1, 8;
James 5:7-8; 2 Pet. 1:16; 3:4, 12; 1 John 2:28


1. Christ promised to keep the Church from the Tribulation. In Revelation 3:10, the risen Christ said the Church would be kept from (Literally, "preserved" or "protected out of") The hour of trial, or divine retribution, that is coming on the whole world.

his ASSUMES that the hour of trial is the tribulation. It is not. The tribulation is not God’s wrath or time of divine retribution. The tribulation is Satan’s wrath and man’s wrath expressed against God’s chosen people, Israel, and against those who are believers in Christ.
The Day of the Lord is God’s wrath and the time of divine retribution.

Hindson: 2. Tribulation judgments are the "wrath of the Lamb." Revelation 6:16 depicts the cataclysmic judgments of the end times as the wrath of Christ. Whereas, Revelation 19:7-9depicts the Church as the bride of the Lamb. She is not the object of His wrath which is poured out on an unbelieving world.

As above, There is simply a failure to properly understand the terms involved.

Hindson: 3. Jesus told his disciples to pray they would escape the Tribulation. In Luke 21:36 He said: "Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen. Remember, even Lot was given a chance to escape Sodom before divine judgment fell.

Jesus does not call this the tribulation. He is referring to the day of wrath; the day of the Lord.

Hindson: 4. His coming in the clouds means the Church's deliverance has come. Jesus told His disciples: "Lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (Luke21:28). The hope of the Church is not in surviving the judgment of Tribulation, but escaping it.

But the context of Luke 21:28 and the parallel in Matthew 24 refers to the time AFTER the tribulation, not before it. This exhortation to the disciples (more specifically, to the believers who will be alive in that generation) that when they see the SIGNS OF THE SEASON, I.e. the tribulation (Mat. 24:15ff), then they can know that the arrival of Jesus is imminent.

Hindson: 6. Moral restraint will disappear when the Church is taken home. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-11 warns that after the "coming of the Lord" and "our being gathered to Him," the "man of lawlessness" (Antichrist) will emerge on the world scene. The Church's restraining ministry of "salt" and "light" will no longer hold back the tide of evil.

One can claim this only by a misinterpretation of the word, apostasia, at verse 3. The word refers to a great departure from the faith – not a physical departure from the earth. Thus, this is a clear teaching that BEFORE the gathering of the church at the coming of the Lord which will begin the DAY OF THE LORD, there will occur a great apostasy and the revelation of the man of lawlessness; the beast of Revelation 13.

This is referring to something that is specific rather than general (THE apostasy). It is certainly something that the recipients of the letter knew about (verse 2:5), and would be known by the church in general as well, by understanding what had been taught orally and in writing (verse 2:15).

The apostles teach of a general decline in moral and spiritual standards that would occur in the latter days, but they are quick to point out that it is already taking place at the time of writing. Furthermore, it is not referring to a general "condition" of spiritual apathy in the world, but the actual falling away from an established standard. It speaks of Christians turning away from true Christianity.

Jesus taught that during a specific time of tribulation (Mat. 24:9), there would be a great falling away from the truths of Christianity because of an intensity of hatred and persecution unparalleled in history (Mat. 24:9-12).

"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and will kill you
and you will be hated by all the nations because of My name.
And then many will be caused to stumble (fall away)
and will deliver up one another and hate one another.
And many false prophets will arise and will deceive many.
And because the lawlessness (via the man of lawlessness)
is increased, the love of many will grow cold."

According to verse 9, this will occur after the abomination of desolation is set up in the Jewish Holy Place by the man of lawlessness. This "beast" will mount a massive attack on Christians as described at Revelation 12:17 and 13:7. Furthermore, based on Matthew 24:10, many Christians will reject their claim to Christianity and actually betray others into the hands of the beast (Mat. 24:23-26).

It is this apostasy that Paul has in mind at 2 Thessalonians 2:3.

The word in the Greek is "apostasia," and means basically the act and/or the condition of standing away from something; a departure from or rejection of something. Paul even suggests for us what this apostasy is at verse 3, by exhorting the believers to "stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether orally or by letter from us (2 Thes. 2:15).

The extent of this apostasy is such that Jesus suggests there will be very little practice of true Christianity on the earth when He comes back to take the elect to Himself (Luke 18:7-8).

"I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily.
However, when the Son of Man comes,
will He find the faith on the earth?"

Here, He applies the promise of justice according to divine wisdom and timing to His elect who are afflicted on the earth.

The promise of justice will be kept when Jesus returns at the Day of the Lord which Paul applies to his generation at 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7.

"For after all, it is only just for God to repay with affliction
those who afflict you, and to give relief to you, and to us as well,
at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of
His power in flaming fire."

Thus, "those who endure to the end will be delivered (Mat. 10:22 and 24:13). That is, those who are able to endure the persecution pressure and remain alive throughout it, will be physically delivered when Jesus comes back.

But He observes by way of a rhetorical question, "will He find THE faith on the earth?" Faith refers to the function of faith by believers who are relaxed and confident through trusting in the character and plan of God and adhering to the standards of the faith. The issue is not the presence of believers ON the earth, but the presence of believers functioning "in fellowship" with God ("abiding in Him," 1 John 2:28).

This is also what Paul had in mind at 1 Timothy 4:1, where he uses the verb form of apostasy to indicate a departure from those spiritual standards which characterize true Christianity ("some will fall away from the faith").

The verb, aphistāmi translated as "fall away," means to take a stand away from something. It can refer to a physical departure from a location or a person; or it can refer to an ideological departure from political or religious viewpoint. In fact, the primary use of the verb is to indicate a "physical" removal from something. It is for this reason that sometimes the argument is made that "apostasy" at 2 Thessalonians 2:3, means "departure" and has in view a physical departure of the saints from the earth via the rapture. However, the meaning and use of a verb is not always the determinative factor for establishing the meaning of a noun that derives from it. Many times a noun develops a specialized meaning based on usage. It seems that just such a case has occurred concerning the noun, apostasia, which occurs only at 1 Thessalonians 2:3 and Acts 21:21 in the New Testament.

Every time the noun is used in the LXX, it carries the meaning of ideological departure (Josh. 22:22; 2 Chron. 29:19; 33:19; Ezra 4:19; Jer. 2:19). Its only other use in the New Testament (Acts 21:21) indicates an ideological departure. It is therefore, determined by this writer, that the contemporary use of the noun in connection with an immediate context, that certainly recognizes the dangers of "apostasy" for believers (verse 15), that the word, apostasia, was used by Paul to speak of that specific "end times" apostasy which will occur in connection with the revealing of the man of lawlessness and the placement of his image (abomination of desolation) in the Holy Place at the beginning of the tribulation (midpoint of the 70th week) just as Jesus taught at Matthew 24:9-26.

Furthermore, as already mentioned, 10 years later, Paul used the verb aphistemi at 1 Timothy 4:1 to refer to the very same apostasy of the tribulation that he referenced in 2 Thessalonians and that Jesus taught about at Matthew 24.

Something else to consider in refuting the "departure" theory, is the fact that the rapture is NOT a departure. It is a GATHERING to the Lord.
The emphasis is on a gathering to Him rather than a departure.
The word "taken" at Mat. 24:40-41 and John 14, paralambano, means "to be taken to the side of."
"I will TAKE YOU TO MYSELF that where I am there you may be also."
Or, "I will RECEIVE you to myself . . ."
"One will be TAKEN and one will be left."

And that describes what Jesus said at Mat. 24:31, the angels will "gather His elect from the 4 winds."
At Mark 13:27, the Son of Man, "He will gather together His elect."
(episunago is the verb).

Now, how about 1 Thes. 4:17,
"Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds (to meet the Lord in the air - this is not correct) FOR A MEETING WITH THE LORD in the air."
It is a noun - apantesis - with the noun eis = FOR A MEETING.
There is no verb here and it should not be translated as an infinitive "to meet".
The emphasis is on the MEETING not on the catching out.

At 2 Thes. 2:1, "our gathering together to Him," uses the noun episunagoge.
Again the emphasis is on a gathering to him and not a departure.

So . . .
At verse 3, IF Paul wants to reference the rapture, he would use the noun that properly focuses on the right emphasis - the GATHERING.
He would say, "unless the MEETING comes first."
And he would use the noun he used at 1 Thes. 4, apantesis.
Or he would use a noun like at verse 1, "unless the GATHERING TOGETHER comes first."
But of course, there is no logic to this idea in the context. The COMING of the Lord, and the GATHERING, and the DAY of the Lord are all THE SAME EVENT.

In such a case, the result would be something like, "The coming of the Lord, the gathering, the Day of the Lord - will not occur until the gathering comes first . . ." That is, "the gathering will not occur until the gathering occurs first."

When the day of the Lord arrives, that is when the rapture will occur.
That is when the GATHERING will occur.
It is not so much a departure as it is a gathering.
By the way, there are reputable translations that recognize the truth of this and translate verse 3 as "unless the apostasy comes first," NASB.

Hindson: 8. The Rapture will take place in the air. Unlike the glorious appearing when Christ descends to earth, splits the Mount of Olives, overthrows Antichrist and binds Satan, the Rapture will occur when we are "caught up together... to meet the Lord in the air" (1 Thess. 4:17).

Again, Hindson fails to recognize that the promise to the church IS the glorious appearing of Christ as has been shown above. Titus 2:13

Hindson: 9. Woman who suffers persecution during the Tribulation symbolizes Israel. This is a very important point. The woman who delivers the male child (Christ) represents the nation of Israel. Israel, not the Church, brought forth Christ, and He in turn, brought forth the Church. He is the founder of the Church, not its descendant. Therefore, the persecuted "saints" of the Tribulation are Jewish – the remnant of the woman's seed (Revelation 12:1-2, 5-6, 17).

There is no Scriptural inconsistency to see the “rest of her offspring” as the church.
1. It is obvious that the “rest” of her offspring is a different group from the woman who is being protected in the wilderness. The woman is rightly identified as the nation of
Israel at that time.
2. The woman (
Israel) is seen to have two offspring in the text (1) Jesus (2) the believers in verse 17.
3. That makes Jesus and the “rest,” brethren.
4. Christians of the church are the brethren of Jesus. Hebrews 2:10-18
”For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one (Father), for which reason He is not ashamed to call them BRETHREN.”
Since church age believers are the brethren of Christ they can legitimately be called “offspring of Israel.”
Yes, it is a spiritual designation, but it is just as valid, and in fact, that is the very reason that the vision shown to John at Revelation 12 makes a point to identify the brethren – the rest of her offspring – as those who keep the commandments of God (1 John 2:3; Romans 13:8-10) and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”

Hindson: 10. Marriage of Christ (Lamb) and His Bride (Church) takes place before the Battle of Armageddon. The Bible describes the fall of "Babylon" (Kingdom of Antichrist) in Revelation 17-18. But before it tells of Christ's return to conquer the Antichrist, it tells us "the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready" (Rev. 19:7-8). This clearly indicates the Bride has been taken to heaven earlier and that she returns with Christ and the host of the "armies of heaven... dressed in fine linen, white and clean" (Rev. 19:8, 14).

All this tells us is that the wedding does in fact occur before Christ’s descent at Armageddon.

It does not establish that the descent of Jesus at Armageddon is the SECOND COMING.
And it does tell us that the church will have been taken to heaven BEFORE this physical descent to Armageddon. What Hindson fails to see is that this descent at Armageddon is NOT the second coming, but an event that occurs in connection with Christ’s second coming and subsequent to it.

Nor does this passage identify “the armies” as the bride that comes with Christ. NO ONE in their right mind brings their bride into battle. And there is no Scriptural indication that the bride is to be part of the warfare that occurs in the Armageddon campaign. The church will await the outcome of the battle in heaven. The armies that come with Christ are angels. As shown earlier, angels are also clothed in white linen (Rev. 15:6).


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