7) The Rapture - Romans 11:25 Until When and Into What?
1) The Question?
2) How will the Blindness be Removed?
3) Until - The Definition?
4) The Blindness?
5) The Fullness?
6) The Two Olive Trees of Romans 11?
7) Matthew 24 - The Rapture?
8) The Rapture - Who, When, and Why?
“For I would not brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part (3313 a section, portion of whole) is happened to Israel, until (891 up to + 3739 that) the fullness (4138 to fill, complete, finish a period or task) of the Gentiles be come in (1525 to enter, to go in).” (Romans 11:25) The NIV version of this scripture is “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” This verse is commonly referred to in relation to the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), which is considered to be the rising of the members of the Body of Christ in the air to meet the Lord in the clouds before His second coming (Zechariah 14:4). An interpretation commonly given is that the “come in” is the entering of the members of the Body of Christ into the Body through faith in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), and the “until” is when the last person is saved that accomplishes the “fullness” which is the completion of the Body, which is commonly considered the time of the rapture. This verse also seems to indicate that “blindness in part is happen to Israel, until…” this fullness is complete, or in other words this blindness will be removed when this fullness is complete. The question is if the Body of Christ will be completed and Raptured before the start of the tribulation, will the blindness (Romans 11:8, Isaiah 29:10-11) of Israel be removed before the start of the Tribulation?
How will the Blindness be Removed?
“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make and end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” (Daniel 9:24) Before the blindness can be removed the Jews “thy people” must “make reconciliation for iniquity”. “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction (6862 narrow, a tight place, trouble, enemy, distress, tribulation) they will seek me early.” (Hosea 5:15, Leviticus 26: 40-46) The Lord has returned to heaven until they acknowledge their offence. “(30) When thou art in tribulation (6862), and all these things come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (31) (For the LORD thy God, is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he swear unto them.” (Deuteronomy 4:30-31) “(8) And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts there in shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left there in. (9) And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I shall hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is our God.” (Zechariah 13:8-9, Hosea 3:5, Ezekiel 22:17-22, 36:37-38). This time of affliction, and tribulation, and refining, and trying, will be completed during the 7 year tribulation. “Neither will I hide my face anymore from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 39:29) “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplication: and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son,” (Zechariah 12:10). The spirit that is poured out is that of the New Covenant, “(34) they shall all know me” (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 36:24-39), which will be done by Christ at his second coming (Revelation 1:7, Mat. 24:30). Israel must be refined and tried, the one third of the believing Jews that remain must call on the Lord to save them, and then the vail by which “their minds were blinded: for until this day” will be “done away in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 3:13-16, Deuteronomy 29:4), which will occur at the end of the seven year tribulation.
Until – The Definition
The word “until” in Romans 11:25 is Strong’s number 891 and is defined as “akin to 206 (through the idea of a terminus); (of time) until or (of place) up to:” E.W. Bullinger on page 835 in his Critical Lexicon and Concordance of the New Testament defines until (891) “continuedly, continuedly until, fixing the attention on the whole duration up to a certain time, but leaving further continuance undetermined.” “(12) For until (891) the law sin was in the world:…” (Romans 5:13), sin did not cease after the law came. “(24) Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until (891) the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24), Jerusalem should not be trodden down after “the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” The subjects referred to by until (891), may or may not cease upon the event they refer to. Until (891) refers primarily to the period of duration of an item, compared to until (3360) which refers to the point of limit and termination. “blindness in part is happened to Israel, until (891 up to and possibility beyond the time) the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” (Romans 11:25) Although this until allows the possibility that Israel could remain in blindness after the “fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”, many, if not most, interpret this scripture to indicate Israel’s blindness ceases at the time of the fulness of the Gentiles is complete. But very few acknowledge the potential problem this creates.
Many interpret that Romans 11:25 indicates the blindness is removed from Israel at the time of the fullness of the Gentiles. L.S. Chafer states in his book Major Bible Themes on page 315 that following the rapture “According to Romans 11:25, Israel’s present blindness will be alleviated, and many in Israel will have their eyes opened to the fact that Jesus Christ is indeed their Messiah and Savior.” And on page 243 he states “…it is stated in Romans 11:25 that Israel’s present blindness is only (until) the completion of the church (note Eph. 1:22-23), the end of the age of special Gentile blessing.” Chafer explains on pages 76-81 why this will occur prior to the tribulation. But is this in conflict with the scriptures presented above that indicate the blindness will not be removed until the second coming of Christ? Note Israel as a nation will make a covenant of peace with the antichrist at the beginning of the tribulation (Danial 9:27).
Dwight Pentecost states in his book Things to Come on page 302 in reference to Romans 11:25 “The fact that this blindness is a mystery shows that it is a kind of blindness hither to unrevealed…This is a new form of blindness, not hitherto experienced by men.” He does not mention that the mystery may be referring to the “until”, in relation to the time of the removal of the blindness. The Old and New Testaments mention the blindness (Isaiah 6:9-11, 29:10, 44:18, Luke 8:10, Mat. 13:13-16, Acts 28:25-27), but not the time of its removal. Pentecost indicates this is a special word (4457 stupidity, or callousness, a covering with a callus) which refers to this new form of blindness, but this same word is used in Mark 3:5 referring to the “hardness (4457)” of the Pharisees. This word 4457 is derived from the word blind or harden (4456 to petrify, render stupid or callous), and is used as “hardened” in Mark 6:52 and 8:17 in relation to the disciples, and in John 12:40 referring to the prophecy of Esaias (Isaiah 6:9). Keep in mind that in relation to the death, burial, and resurrection, the disciples “(34) understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them” (Luke 18:33-34), until Christ “open he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.” (Luke 24:25).
Pentecost also states in his book Things To Come on pages 303-304 “Thus, Paul is signifying that this blindness will be taken away at the rapture of the church when the time of Gentile privilege gives way to the time when Israel will be restored to the place of blessing.” Note Daniel 9:24 which states the tribulation is a time for Israel “to make reconciliation for iniquity.” Pentecost also states “It should be noted that the removal of this blindness does not mean the clear revelation of spiritual truth to the individual. He still is possessed of the blindness of his sin nature. But it does mean that God has restored Israel to a place alongside the Gentiles in the place of blessings again. God is then dealing with the nation with whom He has not dealt since their rejection of the Messiah. It should be further noted that the final removal of the blindness, that is the spiritual blindness to which they are yet heir will not be accomplished until the second advent of Christ (Rom. 11:26-27). The removal of the judicial blindness permits Israel to hear the good news of the Kingdom (Matt. 24:14) that is proclaimed in that day in order that they might be saved, both individually and nationally. It will be observed that the removal of the blindness makes possible the setting aside of the 144,000, the calling out of the believing remnant, and Israel’s ministry to the nations during the tribulation period.” It should first be noted that the “calling out of the remnant” was already possible after the cross (Romans 11:5, Act 2:41, 21:20), and there is nothing presently preventing the calling out of the 144,000 and their ministry considering the blindness is only “in part” (Romans 11:25). Pentecost indicates the Judicial blindness, which he believes is separate from the spiritual blindness, occurred at the time of Israel’s rejection of Christ at the cross, and will be removed at the time of the rapture before the tribulation.
“(15) if thou wilt not harken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and over take thee:…(28) The Lord shall smite thee with madness, and blindness (5788 from 5787 and 5786 film over the eyes, and astonishment of heart:)” (Deuteronomy 28:15,28). The Lord told Israel if they were disobedient curses would come upon them, which included blindness. “(10) For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.” (Isaiah 29:10-18) Isaiah told them this judicial blindness had come upon them. “(14) But their minds were blinded: for until this day remainth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 3:13-16) Apostle Paul said this vail (2571 a covering) remains “until this day”. Strong’s Concordance with Vines Dictionary states for vail (2571) “metaphorically of the spiritually darken vision suffered retributively by Israel, until the conservation of the nation to their Messiah takes place.”
“(9) And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. (10) Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. (11) Then said I, Lord how long? And he answered, until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,” (Isaiah 6:9-11). George Williams comments on Isaiah 6 in his Complete Bible Commentary on page 461 “Israel did not wish to hear, or to understand, and that a judicial blindness from God justly descended upon their heart. The answer to the question of verse 11 is found in Romans 11:25. It is faith alone that can ask this question. This blindness will rest on Israel’s heart until the consummation of the judgment inflicted on her (verses 11 and 12).” This judgment is the tribulation, and this judicial blindness will not be removed until Christ’s second coming.
William R. Newell comments on Romans 11:10 in his Commentary on Romans page 415 “verse 10: As to Israel, nationally, it is written, Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, And bow thou down their back always. It will be so until that future day, described in Zechariah 12:10, when God “pours upon them the Spirit of grace and of supplication, and they look unto Him whom they have pierced. We dare not believe in any of the modern reports of national Jewish turning to the Lord. They will go into yet greater darkness (after the Rapture of the Church).”
“until (891 up to + 3739 that) the fullness (4138 completion) of the Gentiles be come in (1525 to enter, to gain)” (Romans 11:25). Strong’s Concordance with the Vines states that fullness (4138) is “repletion or completion, i.e. (subject) what fills (as contents, supplement, copiousness, multitude), or (object) what is filled (as container, performance, period)”. An example of fullness as a subject (what fills) would be “And of his fullness have all we received” (John 1:16), where we are being filled with his fullness. In Romans 11:25 fullness is the object which is “what is filled” with the Gentiles, therefore the Gentiles can be filling a “(container, performance, period).” Many interpreters feel what is being filled is the olive tree (Romans 11:17), which represents the “spiritual things” (Romans 15:27) that Gentiles now share with Israel, and that the Gentiles are filling up the olive tree as branches, with the fullness of the Gentiles that are to “come in” (enter in) to the tree, which also represents filling the Body of Christ. Strong’s with Vines states about fullness (4138) “the completion of the number of Gentiles who receive blessing through the gospel, Rom. 11:25”. This accounts for the NIV interpretation “until the full number of Gentiles has come in.” But not all interpreters are in agreement with this.
E.W. Bullinger states in his book The Companion Bible Notes page 250 “3. The Time of the Gentiles - While the seven dispensations above specified are the main divisions of the long period of the Devine dealing, there is still another dispensation referred to as (the times of the Gentiles Luke 21:24), a dispensation which overlaps two of the above divisions. The times began when Jerusalem passed under the power of Babylon (477 B.C. See App. 50.5, 6; App 180), and continue while Jerusalem is (trodden down of the Gentiles Luke 21:24). These (times) are referred to in Romans 11:25, which has no reference to the completion of (the church) as is so generally believed, but relates to the fullness, or filling up, of the times of the Gentiles, the word (Gentiles) being put for the times which they fill up.” If this were true this would place the completion of the fullness (a period) at the end of tribulation (Daniel 2:34-35, 44, 9:24, Revelation 16:16). It was previously noted that the word until (891) in Romans 11:25 also occurs in Luke 21:24. The NIV Scofield Study System states about Romans 11:25 “The full (number of the Gentiles) is the completion of the purpose of God in this age,…It must be distinguished from (the times of the Gentiles, Luke 21:24).”
In Romans 11:12 where the word fullness (4138) is used in reference to Israel, Strong’s with Vines states “the conversion and restoration of Israel, Rom. 11:12”, and the NIV interprets this “how much greater riches will their fullness bring!”, not interpreting fullness as full number. Depending on whether the fullness in Romans 11:25 is the Gentiles filling the olive tree, or a period of time, the fullness would occur at a time other than the completion of the times of the Gentiles, or at the same time. The time of the removal of the blindness still offers the best proof as to when the fullness will be completed.
The Two Olive Trees of Romans 11?
In Romans 11 Apostle Paul speaks of two olive trees. One represents the Gentiles “and thou (Gentiles) being a wild olive tree (65).” The words “wild olive tree” means an olester, which is an uncultivated olive tree, and this word (65) is derived from the two greek words (66) and (1636). The word (66) is defined by Strong’s with Vines Dictionary as, “wild (as pertaining to the country), literally (natural) or figuratively (fierce), of or in fields hence, not domestic, said of honey (Mat. 3:4, Mark 1:6); or savage, fierce used metaphorically in Jude 13, raging (66) waves.” The word (1636) is defined as an “olive tree” or “olive”.
“(17) and thou (Gentiles), being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them (The Jewish Nation), (24) For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree (2565)” (Romans 11:17, 24). The words “good olive tree (2565) means a cultivated olive tree, i.e. a domesticated or improved one, the garden olive as opposed to the wild olive, and this word (2565) is derived from the two greek words (2566) and (1636). The word (2566) is defined as “better than many, Being in the comparative form it is to be understood as (better), used one time as “very well” (Acts 25:10). Used with (1636) an “olive tree”. So we see the Gentile believers are cut from a “wild” uncultivated non domestic olive tree, and being graffed into the olive tree of the Jewish Nation which is “their own tree?” (Romans 11:24), that is a cultivated and domestic olive tree, a better olive tree. Why is the Jewish olive tree better, how was it cultivated?
God promised Abraham “(2) And I will make thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing” (3) And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2-3). “(4) Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. (5) Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: (6) An ye shall be unto me a Kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou speak unto the children of Israel…(8) And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do.” (Exodus 19:4-8) The LORD brought the Nation of Israel out of Egypt, establish the covenant of the Law with them, and told them they would be a peculiar treasure, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. “(24) And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. (25) And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.” (Deuteronomy 6:24-25) The LORD gave Israel his requirements in order for them to maintain a righteous relationship with him.
“(16) The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, …(17) For the LORD of hosts that planted thee,” (Jeremiah 11:16-17) The LORD calls Israel (and Judah) a green (7488 new, prosperous, flourishing) olive tree, he had given them everything needed to be prosperous and maintain a righteous relationship with him. The LORD refers to Israel as a vine and explains how he cultivated them “(1) Now will I sing to my beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: (2) And he fenced it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress there in: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes (891 poison – berries)…(7) For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant,” (Isaiah 5:1-7). God referred to Israel (and Judah) as a green olive tree, and a vine, and indicated through the covenants, the oracles of God, and the miraculous way he help them that they had been cultivated as “(6) a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6-9) “(1) What advantage then hath the Jew? or profit is there of circumcision? (2) Much every way: chiefly because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” (Romans 3:1-2) But what about the Gentiles and their wild uncultivated olive tree? “(11) Wherefore remember, that ye being in times past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hand; (12) That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:” (Ephesians 2:11-12) The Gentiles wild olive tree is “without God in the world”, without a relationship with God and his cultivation. But what does the cultivated tree itself, and its root represent?
“(16) For if the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. (17) And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree.” (Romans 11:16-17) We might first notice that the “first fruit be holy” and “root be holy” seem related as similar examples, “(20) But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, Nehemiah 10:37, Leviticus 23) Is the first fruit also the root? What other scriptures relate to the root? “That Christ may dwell in your heart by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love.” (Ephesians 3:17) “(6) As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: (7) Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith…” (Colossians 2:6-7). Note that Gentile believers “partakest of the root and fatness.” The word fatness (4096) is used only one time in the New Testament, and it means “plumpness i.e. (by implication) richness (oiliness)”. According to Strong’s with Vines the word fatness is “perhaps akin to the alternate of (4095) through the idea of repletion, and (4095) means to drink and is used “of drinking the blood of Christ, in the sense of receiving eternal life, through His death, John 6:53-54, 56”. “And did all drink the same spiritual drink (4095): for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:4) Gentile believers now “with them (Israel) partakest of the root”. What do Gentile believers partake? The word partake is used of “their (Israel’s) spiritual things” (Romans 15:27), “the inheritance of the saints in light:” (Colossians 1:12), “his hope” (1 Corinthians 9:10), “Christ” (Hebrews 3:14), “Christ’s sufferings” (1 Peter 4:13), “his promise in Christ by the gospel:” (Ephesians 3:6). Many scriptures relate Christ to the root of the olive tree.
Many consider Abraham the root of the tree because the “promise” to establish the Jewish nation, and to bless all families of the earth came by “the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6, Galatians 3:8) preached to him (See Galatians 3:6-18). Some say that since Gentile believers are “children of Abraham“ (Galatians 3:7, Romans 4:16-18), believers become Jews, or spiritual Jews. Although Abraham was the first Hebrew mentioned in the bible (Genesis 14:13), and the covenant of circumcision was made through him (Genesis 17), Abraham was not a Jew, being from another country (Genesis 11:28, 31, 15:7, 24), and descendant of those that would become known as Gentile idolaters (Joshua 24:2). Israel began as a nation when Jacob was renamed Israel (Genesis 32:28), keeping in mind Ishmael was a descendant of Abraham, and was circumcised, but he was not a Jew (Genesis 17:21-23, Romans 9:7, Hebrews 11:17).
So what are Gentile believers graffed into, and how? “because of unbelief they (Israel) were broken off, and thou (Gentiles) standest by faith.” (Romans 11:20) This is faith in “the gospel of salvation” (Ephesians 1:13-14) that was preached to both the Uncircumcision (Gentiles) and the Circumcision (Israel under the covenants), the uncultivated and the cultivated (Galatians 2:7-9, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4,11). Christ makes a statement to the circumcision that sounds very similar to Paul’s statement about the olive trees. Christ says “(1) I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. (6) If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered, and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” (John 15:16) Immediately following Romans 11 Paul states “So we being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” (Romans 12:5) “(13) For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and have been all made to drink (4222 furnish drink, irrigate, alternate of 4095) into one Spirit. Are the vine and the body other examples of the olive tree? Some feel they are, and some disagree, the previous article about the mystery explains why they may be.
If Christ is the vine, and the head of the body, and branches or members relate to the olive tree, then it is easy to see why the olive tree represents the fact the “(27) Gentiles have been made partakers of their (Israel’s) spiritual things,“ (Romans 15:27). This means the Gentiles who “(12) having no hope, and without God in the world.“ (Ephesians 1:12) before the cross, now have access to the vine, the good olive tree, and the body, through faith in the gospel. Note that “some of the branches be broken off” (Romans 11:17), that is some Jews but not all. “(24) how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed in to their own olive tree? (26) And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, there shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: (27) For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” (Romans 11:24-27) The natural branches continue to be natural branches, when the blindness is removed from Israel as a nation, the nation will be “born at once?” in “one day” (Isaiah 66:8), “they shall all know me” (Jeremiah 31:34). That is what the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34) promises to Israel, not to Gentiles. Through the gospel of the uncircumcision during this “dispensation of the grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2), “There is neither Jew nor Greek” (Galatians 3:28), Israel as a Nation is blinded (Romans 11:25), and all are “made nigh (1451 near)” by “the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13) through the gospel of Salvation (1 Cor. 15:1-4), not the covenants.
The Gentiles are “ministers (1249 servant and teacher) of the new testament” (2 Corinthians 3:6), because it was a result of God fulfilling “the promises made unto the fathers” (Romans 15:8, Hebrews 9:16-18) that Christ went to the cross, which will become “a covenant of the people (5971 tribe Israel), for a light of the Gentiles” (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6). “ a light of the Gentiles”, not a covenant for the Gentiles. Graffing an uncultivated branch onto a cultivated olive tree does not make it a cultivated branch, that is why the natural branches can still be graffed in “much more” (Romans 11:24), much easier.
Matthew 24 - The Rapture?
“(1) And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. (2) And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. (3) And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and the end of the world (165 ever, age, a Messianic period)?” (Mat.24:1-3) Notice the Jews understood “the end of the world (age)”, would be at “thy (Christ) coming”, this would occur at the time the Lord would “restore again the Kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6) This was clearly understood by the Jews (The Nation of Israel) as a literal event (Zechariah 14:4, Psalms 2:6-9, Isaiah 9:6-7), that the Messiah would come to Israel, restore their Kingdom, and rule there on earth as the King. Peter explained after the death of Christ to “(12) Ye men of Israel…(19) Repent ye therefore, and be converted,…(20) And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:” (Acts 3:12-26)
The Old Testament told of a period of tribulation that would occur before the coming of Christ (Jeremiah 30:7), and Christ describes this period in Matthew 24:1-28. Then the Lord explains “(29) Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall be shaken: (30) And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see, the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (31) And he shall send his angel’s with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Mat. 24:29-31) The events of verse 29 (Joel 2:10, 31, Isaiah 13:10), verse 30 (Daniel 7:13-14, Zechariah 12:10-14), and verse 31 (Ezekiel 37:9-11, Isaiah 27:12), were all foretold in the Old Testament. The location the elect would be gather to and the events following the gathering were described “(34) And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered,…(35) And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: (38) And I will purge out from among you the rebels,…and they shall not enter the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am Lord.” (Ezekiel 20:34-38)
“Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken (3880 receive near, associate with oneself, in familiar or intimate act), and the other left (863 put (send) away, forsake, abandon).” (Mat. 24:40) Is this verse the gathering of Israel spoken of in Mat. 24:31, and other Old Testament scriptures? “…and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel” (Isaiah 27:12). The word (3880) is used in “(2) In my Father’s house are many mansions:..(3) I will come again, and receive (3880) you unto myself;” (John 14:2-3) It is also used in “take (3880) unto the Mary thy wife” (Mat. 1:20), and the word (863) is used as “let not a husband put away (863 divorce) his wife.” (1 Corinthians 7:11). If the one taken (3880) is received near, and the one left (863) is abandoned or forsaken, then it would seem the ones taken would be favored. According to Ezekiel 37 all Israel (the elect Mat. 24:31) must be gathered and judged in the wilderness, this only leaves the Gentiles to be “left”. “judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17), and “the people (Israel) shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations. (Number 23:9) All living Jews (Circumcision) will be gathered and judged. Then the Gentiles that are left (863) will be gathered and judged (Mat. 25:32), the sheep and the goats.
Living Jews and Gentiles will be judged at Christ second coming, but the Old Testament also told of a resurrection. This resurrection is to follow the period of tribulation “(1) and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time… (2) And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:1-3, Isaiah 26:16-21, Job 19:25-27) Christ spoke of this resurrection “(28) Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, (29) And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:28-29) This resurrection was discussed by others throughout the New Testament (Luke 20:27-40, John 11:23-26, Acts 4:2, 24:14-15, 23:6-8).
Some believe that only the saved Jews will be raised at Christ’s coming (Revelation 20:4, Daniel 12:2 “many”), and the unsaved will be raised at the end of the 1000 year millennium, others believe all Jews will be judged at Christ’s coming. Is Christ in Matthew 24 and John 5 speaking of the same resurrection as Apostle Paul does in his Epistles (1 Corinthians 15:51-54, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)? When Christ spoke of the gathering, the Jews would have only known of the gathering “into the wilderness” for judgment, so that the just could “enter the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 20:34-38). But Paul says “(16) the dead in Christ shall rise first: (17) Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) Paul states “(51) Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,” (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). The resurrection was no mystery, so what is this mystery? Living believers would not sleep (die), but will “(51) be changed” into “(52) incorruptible” bodies, they will “(53) put on immortality”. Daniel states “(3) And they that be wise shall shine (2094 to enlighten, warn, teach) as brightness of the firmament” (Daniel 12:1-3), but this does not seem to indicate a change in the body. The Jews (Circumcision) understood that at Christ’s coming, they would be regathered, and judged, and the just would enter the land of Israel, with the resurrected just, with no bodily change. Christ stated “(30) For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angles of God in heaven.” (Mat. 22:30) It is uncertain in what sense this was meant, considering many believe the “(2) sons of God” (Genesis 6:1-4, Job 1:6, 2:1, Jude 6, 7) were angels that took mortal wives and had children. The Gentiles (Uncircumcision) through Paul understand “the dead in Christ” will be raised, then both living and resurrected believers would be changed into immortal bodies and then “caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) The gathering and resurrection spoken of by Paul takes place in a different way, and for a different purpose, than those understood by the Jews, Matthew 24 is a gathering not a rapture.
The Rapture – Who, When, and Why?
Are the Circumcision believers gathered to enter Israel, and the Uncircumcision believers caught up to the clouds? Is the blindness removed from the Nation of Israel (Circumcision), and the fullness of the Gentiles (Uncircumcision) completed at the same time, at the end of the tribulation, at Christ’s second coming? Would this present many questions about scriptures related to the rapture that could not be answered, especially by dispensationalist? The belief in a post – tribulation rapture is a relatively common interpretation, although not normally for Dispensationalist, and not normally for the reasons presented in this article. Dispensationalist George Williams states in his Complete Bible Commentary on pages 945 and 946 about 1 Thessalonians 4 and 5 “The subject of this passage is the Coming of the Lord. Two stages will mark that coming: - first: the ascension of the dead and living members of the Church to meet the Lord in the air (iv. 13-18); second: the descent of the Lord with all His saints in judgment upon the earth (ch.v. 1-11). Whether these two stages will take place on the one day, or whether and interval, long or short, will intervene, does not appear to be revealed in the Scriptures…The word (comfort) – iv. 18, v.11, and 2 Thes. ii17 – unites these passages, and suggest that there will be no interval between the two stages of the Lord’s Second Coming. He will descend from the highest heaven, meet his raptured Church in the air, and, continuing His descent, reach the earth and stand upon the Mount of Olives (Zechariah xiv.). Then will occur the judgment of 2 Thess.i.” It should be noted although this article may reach the same conclusion as this statement by Williams, it is not for exactly the same reasons.
It is interesting to note that those raptured will be “caught up together with them (resurrected saints) in the clouds, to meet (529) the Lord in the air:”, and Israel was told “the son of man came with the clouds of heaven,” (Daniel 7:13). If the pre-tribulation rapture is correct, why does the Lord descend from heaven to meet the church, and then return to heaven with them? Why are those raptured not taken directly to heaven as Elijah (2 Kings 2:11, Psalm 68:17), and Enoch (Genesis 5:24, Hebrews 11:5)? Why does the Lord descend part of the way to earth to meet (529) those raptured, then return to heaven with them? The word meet (529 a friendly encounter) is used 3 other times in scripture, twice when the ten virgins “went forth to meet (529) the bridegroom.” (Mat. 25:1,6), and once where “they came to meet (529) us” (Acts 28:15), where brethren come out from Rome to accompany Paul back to Rome. Strong’s Concordance with Vines explains about this word “It is used in the papyri (Egyptian Greek Manuscripts) of a newly arriving magistrate. It seems that the special idea of the word was the official welcome of a newly arrived dignitary.” The virgins welcome the bridegroom, the breathern welcome Paul, they both continue to their destination. Both Christ and Paul speak of the “trumpet” (Mat. 24:31, 1 Corinthians 15:52), the circumcision “see the Son of man coming in the clouds” (Mat. 24:30), those raptured “meet (529) the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:7), “in the clouds”. Could this be similar to what Williams is describing? Those raptured (The Uncircumcision) go out to meet (529) the Lord in those clouds, the Jews and proselytes (Circumcision) see him coming in those same clouds, and those raptured accompany him as he continues to earth, just as the virgins accompany the bridegroom, and the brethren accompany Paul.
If the rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation wouldn’t this remove all living believers from earth? Then who would populate the Millennium? Children will be born during the Millennium (Jeremiah 30:19-20, Ezekiel 47:22, Zechariah 10:7-9), the unjust will die (Isaiah 65:20, Revelation 19:15, 16:13-21), so there will be living believers during this period. The nation of Israel always understood the living and resurrected just (obedient believers) would enter the land of Israel at the Lords coming, and rule over the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:22-26, 60:3, 10, 12), this was promised to them alone through the covenants (Exodus 19:6). The living and resurrected believers saved by the gospel of the uncircumcision, those not under the covenants, will participate in some way in ruling during the Millennium (1 Corinthians 6:2), but must also not interfere with the covenant promises to Israel, in an earthly kingdom where Israel (the Jews) is the superior nation, and the Gentiles will be expected to “(6) Keepth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;…(7) their burnt offering and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine alter;” (Isaiah 56:6-7). This will be the kingdom under the law (Isaiah 2:3, Micah 4:1-2), and the uncircumcision are “not under the law, but under grace?” (Romans 6:14) According to the new covenant “(33) saith the Lord, I will put my law in their (circumcision) inward parts, and write it in their hearts;” (Jeremiah 31:33, Deuteronomy 30:1-10), but it’s the same law (Mat. 5:17-18), with clarifications given by Christ (Mat. 5,6,7). So the uncircumcision will be removed to “ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). But if there will be living Gentile nations during the Millennium, how could this be possible?
“(14) For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (15) Of whom the whole family (3965 kindred, lineage, from 3962 father, spiritual children) in heaven and earth is named,” (Ephesians 3:14-15) The thing that determines whether a member of the body of Christ is part of his family in heaven or on earth is not whether they are a Jew or Gentile, but whether they are saved by the gospel of the circumcision through the ministry of Israel, or the gospel of the uncircumcision through the ministry of Paul. But how could two gospels be taught during the tribulation at the same time?
From the time of Christ’s death in 29 AD until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD (Mat. 23:38), the Apostles in Jerusalem continued to teach the gospel of the circumcision, that is the gospel of salvation (1 Cor. 15:1-4, 11) including the covenants to Israel. They were “all zealous of the law” (Acts 21:20). After the salvation of Apostle Paul in about 37 AD (Acts 9), Paul went into the desert of Arabia for 3 years where he was given the gospel of the uncircumcision directly by “(12) the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11-18, 2:7-9) Soon after he took the gospel of the uncircumcision, the gospel of salvation, without the covenants, throughout the then known world. (Acts 13:1-4) “(4) Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.” (Acts 8:1-4), and James and Peter continued to write to these circumcision believers that were scattered “everywhere” (James 1:1, 1 Peter 1:1), the gospel of circumcision and uncircumcision were preached at the same time throughout the world. There was confusion as circumcision Jews tried to force their gospel on the uncircumcision (Galatians 1:6-9, 2:1-9, Acts 15). In fact that same confusion exists within Christianity to this day. Perhaps Paul was the only one that fully understood the difference between the two gospels, and their place in God’s plans, what Peter describes as “(16) some things hard to be understood” (2 Peter 3:15-16). Paul’s understanding allowed him to state “we are not under the law, but under grace?” (Roman 6:15), and yet take a Nazarite vow showing “that thou (Paul) thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.” (Acts 21:24)
If the gospel of circumcision and uncircumcision were preached side by side from the start of Paul’s ministry a little after 37 AD (Acts 13:1-3), until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, why would it be impossible for them to exist together for 7 years during the tribulation? The reason they can be preached at the same time, is that they both included the same gospel of salvation (1 Cor. 15:1-4). The 144,000 “(3) servants of our God” (Revelation 7) will continue the ministry of the 12 apostles, teaching the gospel of the Kingdom (Mat. 24:14), the good news of Christ coming, and the gospel of the circumcision, the gospel of salvation including the covenants and Israel’s place in the Millennium. J. Dwight Pentecost states in his book Things to Come on page 212 “Their (the two witnesses) good news is (the gospel of the kingdom) of Matthew 24:14. They do not neglect the preaching of the cross, for Revelation 7:14 and Zechariah 13:8-9 indicate that the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom in the seventieth week is accompanied by the preaching of the cross.”, and on page 419 he states “It has been demonstrated, previously, that this gospel of the kingdom entails the preaching of the death of Christ and the blood of Christ as the way of salvation.” It is possible the gospel of the circumcision will become the predominate gospel during the tribulation with the gospel of the kingdom (Mat. 24:14). This would account for thousands of Gentiles that will become proselytes during the tribulation (Revelation 5:9, 7:9-14), and they will be the living Gentile believers that will enter the Millennial earthly kingdom (Mat. 25:31-46), along with resurrected Gentile proselytes from the past. The uncircumcision believers would continue to teach the gospel of salvation without the covenants, and all uncircumcision believers would be raptured at the coming of Christ. As “ministers (servants and teachers) of the new testament;” (2 Corinthians 3:6), the uncircumcision believers can still teach the meaning of the new testament during the tribulation, and the gospel of the coming King, without being a member of the new covenant as the nation of Israel.
The Rapture: Who? The uncircumcision; When? The end of the tribulation at Christ’s coming; Why? Separation of the uncircumcision believers from the circumcision believers kingdom rule on earth.
Romans 11:25 – Until when? The end of the tribulation at Christ’s coming. Into what? The olive tree, the vine, the body of Christ, not Israel. The objective of this article is not to prove a post – tribulation rapture, but to present some reasons that it could be a possibility. Undoubtly end time doctrine, and the bible in general, will be debated until “the end of days” (Daniel 12:13). Many Christians wish to be raptured from the difficulties of this life into heaven, but what a shock it would be for many believers if they awoke one morning to find themselves in the tribulation. We should remember “(15) the long suffering of our Lord is salvation;” and he is “(9) not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:15,9). The reason we were chosen is to bear fruit, in anticipation of the rapture we would hope that we do not become so heavenly bound, that we are of no earthly good. “(21) And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and Iconium, and Antioch, (22) confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:21-22)