Wednesday, March 22, 2023

A Study Of Paul's Teaching About The Rapture & Tribulation Period In 1 & 2 Thessalonians


  In our last post, here,,  we explored what Jesus had to teach on the tribulation period in His sermon on the Mount of Olives in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. We focused upon how His teaching advanced our understanding of the Bible's overall teaching on the tribulation at the end of this age. We also made some remarks on why the rapture of the church does not appear in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, while commenting that He does introduce the rapture in His later institution of the Lord's Supper in John 14:1-3.

    As noted in a previous post, scholar Dr. Tim LaHaye has counted nearly fifty Old Testament passages and fifteen New Testament texts that refer to the Tribulation period. I recall reading of how other than Paul's letters to the Thessalonians, we see no other mention of the Tribulation period in the New Testament Epistles. This is very telling. 

    As the late John Walvoord once noted in a conference on the rapture and tribulation, the absence of mention of the tribulation period in the Epistles (save 1 and 2 Thessalonians of course) gives another argument for placing the rapture prior to the Tribulation period. 

    Thus what follows concerns Paul's teaching on the Tribulation in 1 and 2 Thessalonians. As will be discovered, the only reason He mentions this event is to contrast it with the rapture and to serve warning to those who may not yet be believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.   

Paul's teaching on the Rapture & Tribulation period. 

    Jesus significantly advances our understanding of the Bible's overall teaching on the tribulation period. Whenever we come to the writings of the Apostle Paul, we find there are two main passages in his writings the deal with the Tribulation Period (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). In both passages, Paul discusses the tribulation period in light of the rapture of the church. 

    Unlike what we saw in Jesus' teaching on the tribulation, Paul treats the tribulation period in its relationship to the rapture of the church. We discover that the tribulation will follow the rapture. Paul's extensive knowledge of the Old Testament, as well as His careful distinctions about the church in the rapture, informs how He presents this subject of the triublation. The first of these passages, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, is worth outlining to see how it treats the Tribulation period:

I. The swiftness of God's wrath at the end of the tribulation will be avoided by believers 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3

    The Apostle Paul undoubtedly is using this phrase "day of the Lord" in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3

"Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape."

    In our last post, we briefly looked at the usage and appearance of the phrase "The day of the Lord". This term, as it describes the final outpouring of God's wrath on the earth, is spoken of in Old Testament passages such as Isaiah 2:12; Isaiah 10:3; Isaiah 13:9; Isaiah 34:2; Isaiah 34:8; Isaiah 61:2; Ezekiel 30:3; Amos 5:18; Zephaniah 1:7. 

    To grasp the nature of the Day of the Lord as revealed in Scripture, as well as to understand why the church won't have to endure it, gives us a strong argument for the rapture occuring before the tribulation period.

    The beginning of the Day of the Lord will begin at the same time as the rapture or shortly before it. As we saw in my recent posts on the rapture, the Lord's gathering of His church to Himself will occur with no preceding signs - meaning it will be "imminent" or will occur at anytime. The Day of the Lord (i.e. covering The Tribulation period, 2nd coming of Jesus to earth, His thousand year reign, see especially Joel 2-3) will begin in the same manner - suddenly and imminently. 

    Paul emphasizes this point of  "imminency" in 1 Thessalonians 5:1 (see the citation of 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 above). Furthermore, in noting the timeframe of the Day of the Lord, I would argue that the "Day of the Lord" will cover the entire seven-year tribulation period, and not just a portion of it. 

II. The severity of wrath of the Great Tribulation (final 3 1/2 years) will be avoided by Christians in the church right now. 1 Thessalonians 5:4-9

    So we have seen that the "Day of the Lord", which will include the entire Tribulation period, will come swiftly, at anytime. The Apostle Paul appears to be working backwards from the end of the seven-year tribulation period to its mid-point. Whenever you compare Paul's presentation of the tribulation period to that of Jesus' in Matthew 24-25, you discover that this section of 1 Thessalonians 5:4-9 corresponds to Matthew 24:21-41. In terms of what we noted earlier, Jesus refers to the last 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation period as "The Great Tribulation". 

    So the question is: would Paul's readers (and us) have to worry about the severity of wrath in that final half of the future tribulation? Paul's answer is "no". Now with that said, Paul uses the truth of the coming tribulation to tell his readers to be on the "alert" and "on their guard". Like any church, the church at Thessalonica had a mixture of "true believers" and "make-believers". 

    For those people who think they are "o.k" with God and thus can live in ease, it is those people who need to be the most alarmed. Paul's words in 1 Thessalonians 5, connected with his continuing discussion of the rapture from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, gives people a warning and a chance to escape the coming wrath by trusting in Christ as Savior, Lord, and Treasure (see 1 Thessalonians 5:9). Like Jesus before him, the Apostle Paul is referencing the coming Tribulation period, in terms of its severity, to warn unbelievers of what is coming.  

III. Solid encouragement to live for Jesus right now - 2 Thessalonians 2

    So, we have seen how the tribulation period or "Day of the Lord" will begin swiftly, without preceding signs, in lines with the rapture of the church. We then looked at the severity of this future era as a warning to unbelievers about the need to trust in Christ in this current age of grace. But now, Paul is going to pivot to some final words of encouragement. 

    In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 we saw Paul begin with the end of the Tribulation (the day of the Lord) and work his way back through the second half of the Tribulation period (called by Jesus the Great Tribulation) to underscore the swiftness and severity of judgment. We have seen as well that Paul offers strong encouragement that believer's will not have to experience such wrath and that they are to strive all they can for Jesus now. But what about Paul's teaching in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8? 

    2 Thessalonians speaks of the coming of Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him. The doctrine of the rapture is mentioned in 2:1-2, which states:

"Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come."
    Paul refers to that doctrine to comfort his readers in the face of rumors circulating that perhaps the Thessalonians had missed the rapture; or that the day of the Lord had come; or that they were somehow going to have to endure God's wrath after-all. From 2:2-12 we get an overview of the whole Tribulation period:

1. 2 Thessalonians 2:2-4 The increasing level of apostasy going on right now up until the Anti-Christ is first revealed at the beginning of the Tribulation.

2. 2 Thessalonians 2:5-11 The Spirit of God will remove His restraining influence and check on man's evil, and the Anti-Christ will have full liberty to increasingly and gradually exercise full dominion over this planet. One purpose of this period will be to judge unbelieving man's sin. A second main purpose for this period will be to prepare Israel for her coming Messiah at the end of this period. However, we gain a clear third purpose: destruction of Satan's man - the Anti-Christ.

    The encouragement Paul gives to his readers is that because of Jesus' catching away of His Church just before the "Day of the Lord" or Tribulation period, the Christian will not have to endure all that will transpire in that seven period of time. 


1. To say there will be seasons of trial or tribulations throughout the history of Christ's church or the individual lives of God's people cannot be disputed. In fact suffering and trials of all sorts is to be the norm for anyone wanting to be Godly in Christ Jesus. (Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12) However the testimony of scripture bears out the fact that the Tribulation period (the whole seven year period of time spoken of in Daniel and elsewhere) is unique in terms of its intensity and character and thus merits its own unique study and understanding.

2. The Book of Zephaniah is perhaps the fullest treatment on this phrase in the Old Testament, being that the entire book is dedicated specifically to describing it. Will this day encompass the entire Tribulation period? Or is this a phrase meant to describe the tail end of the Tribulation period? Zephaniah 1:1-3:11 describes how God will wage war against the nations who have assembled against Him, followed by the promised restoration of Israel and the redeemed in Zephaniah 3:12-20. When we tie in the Old Testament teaching on the tribulation and Jesus' instructions about it, we find out that "the Day of the Lord" will encompass the entire tribulation period. Paul's usage of this phrase contains this built-in assumption, which leads me to conclude the church will not be present in the tribulation period.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

A Study Of Jesus Teachings About The Tribulation Period In Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Introduction & Review

    Today's post will focus upon Jesus' teaching on the tribulation period in His final public sermon. To understand what is meant by "The Tribulation Period", let me review briefly from our last post. In our last post we concluded the following regarding the Old Testament's teaching about the Tribulation period:

1. The Tribulation period will be an unprecedented time of human history, occurring at the end of this age. 

Daniel 12:1 

“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued."

    The tribulation period is so-called due to how God will pour out what is called His "eschatological wrath" (that is, "His final expression of judgment") upon this world's unbelieving system and inhabitants. It is called by other names ("Day of the Lord" - Zephaniah 1:15;  "Daniel's seventieth week" - Daniel 9:23-27; and "time of Jacob's trouble" - Jeremiah 30:7. just to name a few).

2. The Tribulation period's purpose, in addition to God's judging of this world, is prepare Israel to meet her Messiah (see Zechariah 12 and 14, as well as Romans 11:25 and Revelation 14). 

    We can also note, especially from Revelation 7, that many people will get converted to Christ in the Tribulation period as a result of the efforts of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists preaching the Gospel.

3. The Tribulation period's duration will be seven years. 

    This length of time is drawn from the final seven year period or "final week" of Daniel's seventy weeks prophecy in Daniel 9:23-27. In Daniel 9:26b-27, we discover that the final seven year period is sub-divided into two equal halves of 31/2 years each. 

    Jesus refers to this prophecy, noting in Matthew 24:21 that the latter half is called "The Great Tribulation", due to the increased intensity and frequency of God's outpouring of wrath. The first half is not focused upon near as much as the latter half in other prophetic passages (especially in Revelation 13-18, which details the events of that final 31/2 year period). 

4. A tyrannical ruler will attempt to blaspheme God and lead the whole world astray in outright rebellion again God. 

    This ruler is called by many names in prophetic Scripture (the son of perdition, anti-Christ, the beast). His regieme will be known as "Babylon the Great", and is detailed in Revelation 15-18. 

5. Christ's rapture of the church will precede this event. 

    The rapture and His second coming constitute part one and part two of His overall return, with the tribulation ooccuring in between both. His return to earth to rescue Israel will close out this period of time. We do not find mention of the rapture in the Old Testament, due to it being an event revealed by Jesus, then His Apostles, for the church and this current period of time for which the church eagerly awaits the return of her Lord (see Philippians 3:20-21 for example).
    Readers may review the last post by clicking here:

    As we continue on in our Biblical overview of the Tribulation period, we enter now into the New Testament with the aim once again to understand what the Bible has to say about this subject. In today's post, we shall review Jesus' teaching on the tribulation period.

Jesus' teaching on the Tribulation period

   Jesus is recorded saying the following about the tribulation period in Matthew 24:21-22

"For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 22 Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short."

     The above citation is taken from Jesus' final public teaching on the Mount of Olives - called by scholars "The Olivet Discourse". To understand why Jesus focuses attention on the tribulation, we first need to note the setting of Jesus' sermon.

The setting of Jesus' sermon on the mount gives insight into His remarks on the tribulation period. 

    The history of the Mount of Olives gives insight into understanding why Jesus would devote so much time to expounding upon the tribulation period. 
    This particular mountain is spoken of in Ezekiel's vision of the glory of God departing from the Temple in Jerusalem and resting over "the mountain to the East" in Ezekiel 9-10. 

    The setting of Jesus' sermon tells us that His sermon is detailing how God will deal with Jerusalem in history and prophecy. Zechariah 14, another significant prophetic passage that highlights this famous mountain, will feature the Lord Jesus returning to earth at the end of the tribulation period to restore Israel unto Himself before beginning His earthly reign. Such Biblical background aids us in seeing the significance of Jesus' remarks on the Divine plan for Jerusalem, the future tribulation period, and His second coming. 

How Jesus' teaching is presented in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

    The three versions of this teaching, found in Matthew 24:1-31; Mark 13:1-27 & Luke 21:5-28, are the passages we look to to understand Jesus' teaching on the Tribulation period and His Second coming back to earth. 
    In the citation from Matthew 24:21-22, we find Jesus alluding back to Daniel 12:1ff. This allusion signals to us that Jesus is not only referring to the pending destruction of Jerusalem and its temple 40 years future to Jesus' words, but also The Tribulation period at the end of this age. 

    Matthew and Mark's accounts appear to emphasize Jesus' predictions a near event future to them (destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D) and the Tribulation period at the end of this age. 

    Luke's account does the same as Matthew and Mark, with the additional phrase of the "times of the Gentiles" referring to the Gentile occupancy in Jerusalem that began in the days of King Nebuchadnezzar, and which will cease at the end of the future Tribulation.

Some specific observations about the tribulation period from Jesus' teaching in His sermon on the Mount of Olives.

    There is much more that could be said about Jesus' teaching, but we can note a few points about the Tribulation from these texts:

A. Jesus utilizes Daniel's prophecies throughout His sermon, meaning that He uses similar language to describe a future seven year period, divided into two equal 3 1/2 year periods, with the latter being the most severe (see Daniel 9:23-27 and Daniel 12:1-3).

B. Jesus refers to the whole period as "The Tribulation Period" (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24) and the latter half as "The Great Tribulation" (Matthew 24:21). Jesus uses phrases from Daniel 9:23-27 and Daniel 12 to describe this period as being unprecedented.

C. In all three passages there is reference made to a fairly near event future to Jesus' time as well as the far future tribulation period. The near future event of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D acts as a template to preview what will be the final seven year tribulation period spoken of in Daniel. 

    In Daniel's prophecies we see this same phenomena of "double-fulfillment", wherein he speaks of a fairly near set of events 250 years from his day (which is the attack of Jerusalem and its temple by Antiochus Epiphanes in 168-165 b.c.) and of course the far future event of the tribulation period at the end of this age.

D. Jesus' continuity with Daniel's prophecies gives us a bridge between the Old and New Testament teachings on the Tribulation period. Every passage that follows throughout the New Testament on the Tribulation period does so from Jesus' sermon interpreting the extensive Old Testament treatment on the subject.

A quick note about the absence of the rapture in Jesus' teaching on the tribulation period

   A final remark needs made about the rapture, or the lack of mention thereof.  So, why no mention of the rapture of the church in Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, or Luke 21? As we labored to show already, Jesus' is laying out God's final dealings with the Jews both in the near prophetic sense (destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.) and far prophetic sense (Daniel's 70th week or tribulation period). 

    In the chronology of Jesus' teaching, once he completes His Olivet Discourse, it is then where He and his disciples go to the upper room to begin the celebration of the Passover (see Matthew 26:1; Mark 14:1; Luke 22:1; John 13:1). 

    Since Jesus is instituting the Lord's Table in the context of the Passover Celebration, and since His Lord's Table is a new Covenant meal for the pending coming Church age (which would begin in Acts 2), it makes sense that Jesus would make reference to the rapture of the church in John 14. 

Closing thoughts:

    Today we surveyed Jesus' teaching on the Tribulation Period in His sermon on the Mount of Olives. The takeaways for this study are as follows. First, God's pledge to bring His chosen people, Israel, to faith in her Messiah, as well as His promises to their forebears Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, require the Tribulation period. The primary purpose of this period is to prepare Israel for the coming of her Messiah at the end of this age. God's promises to His people Israel says something to those who are His people in the Church - that God never breaks His promises. Then lastly, drawing attention to this period of time places urgency on evangelization of neighbors and friends as to how they can avoid the coming wrath of God upon the earth. 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

A Study Of The Old Testament's Predictions Of The Coming Tribulation Period


    In today's post we are going to begin looking at one of the two major events which will follow the rapture of the church. Readers may consult my last two posts on the rapture of the church here and here 

Two major events that will follow the rapture of the church.

    The one event will involve the rewarding of Christians for how they lived their lives for Jesus while here on this earth. This event, called "The Judgment Seat of Christ" or "The Judgment Seat of God"  (see 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10) will occur in Heaven when all Christians, deceased and living, will be caught away by Jesus and given glorified, physically transofrmed bodies. The judgment seat of Christ will not be about whether someone has trusted in Christ as Savior (this of course is a pre-requisite in becoming a Christian). Rather, the issue at stake will be that of faithfulness to the Lord. This "Judgment of believers" or "Judgment Seat of Christ" will represent a heavenly theatre of God's activity following the rapture and will last the duration of the final seven years of world history.

    The second event, the Tribulation period, which we could refer to as an "earthly theatre", will feature God's Divine wrath poured out upon this world. This event will be contemporary with the rewarding of the saints spoken of in the above paragraph. Unlike the Judgment Seat of Christ, the focus of the Tribulation will not be the Church, since the Church will had been raptured prior to the Tribulation. Instead, Israel's preparation for her Messiah will be one of three foci (with the two other foci being Divine judgment of Evil and mass conversion of people to Christ from the nations) - see Zechariah 12:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12; Revelation 7:9). 

    The Tribulation period is the focus of today's post. In particular, we want to understand how the Old Testament introduces and progressively reveals this important teaching of Bible prophecy. Author Tim Lahaye notes the following about the importance of gaining familiarity with the Tribulation period:

"In His masterful Olivet Discourse, our Lord warned that this world has yet to see a time of "great tribulation", such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be (Matthew 24:21). And those who take the Bible literally find it signficant that the Tribulation period is given more space in Scripture than any other comparable event, There is more space allocated to the Tribulation than the 1,000-year Millennial Kingdom, heaven, hell, or any subject except salvation and the promise of Christ's second coming. It is mentioned at least 49 times by the Hebrew prophets and at least 15 times in the New Testament." (Tim Lahaye and Thomas Ice, Charting the End Times, page 56). 

    Even though I won't cover all 49 Old Testament texts on the tribulation period, what follows is a survey of nine of the more major passages to give us a sense of the Old Testament's progressive revelation on the subject. This is important to know, since Jesus and the Apostles refer often to the tribulation period in the New Testament. 

How the Old Testament progressively tells us of the future Tribulation period.

1. Deuteronomy 4:26-31 - The First Mention of the Tribulation Period.

   Note what Moses writes in Deuteronomy 4:30-31 

"When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the Lord your God and listen to His voice. 31 For the Lord your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them."

    The above text stands as perhaps the first mention in the Bible of a period of time that Jesus calls "the tribulation" (Mark 13:19). God lays out the prophetic history of Israel through the Old Testament and human history (4:26-28) with reference to her going through a time of great difficulty and deliverance by her Lord in 4:29-31. At this early stage in the Bible's revelation of this subject, Israel's whole history and the tribulation period are treated as one, seamless history.

2. Isaiah 13:6-18 - The day of the Lord is associated with the Tribulation

    The heart of this passage is expressed in Isaiah 13:9-11a 

"Behold, the day of the Lord is coming,Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it. 10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light. 11 Thus I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity." 

    Twice in this passage we find reference to what is called "the day of the Lord".  We are not told the duration of this "day" in the passage, only its character and purpose.  We often see the phrase "Day of the Lord" used in two respects. It can refer to a specific judgment of God, as in the case of God's use of the Babylonians in destroying the city of Jerusalem (see Lamentations 2:22-23). Such "Days of God"or "Days of the Lord" are spoken of throughout the Old Testament, and speak of God's temporal judgment on a nation. 

    The second sense we see usage of the term "Day of the Lord" has to do with what we call God's "eschatological wrath", that is, His wrath poured out upon the earth for the entire duration of the tribulation period or what will be the Great White Throne Judgment spoken of in Revelation 20.  

3. Isaiah 17:4-11 Israel will be prepared to meet her Lord

    Isaiah 17:7 notes "In that day man will have regard for his Maker and his eyes will look to the Holy One of Israel."

4. Jeremiah 30:4-11 The Tribulation is termed "The time of Jacob's distress or trouble"

    It is in this passage that we gain further evidence of God turning His attention back to Israel. During the Tribulation period God will prepare Israel to meet her Messiah through a process of chastening, purification, purging and protection. This is what we read in Jeremiah 30:7-9

‘Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it. 8 ‘It shall come about on that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘that I will break his yoke from off their neck and will tear off their bonds; and strangers will no longer make them their slaves. 9 But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them."

5. Ezekiel 20:33-38 The tribulation period will purify Israel to enter into the Lord's Kingdom

Ezekiel 20:38 states - 

"and I will purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am the Lord." 

    Thus far in our study of the Tribulation period, we have discovered that the judgment of the earth will occur and that the preparation of Israel for her Messiah will be the specific focus. As we follow the theological breadcrumbs concerning the Tribulation period, we are getting a sense of its purpose in the plan of God. 

6. Daniel 9:26b-27 The duration and details of the Tribulation period

    When we turn to the prophet Daniel, we come upon Daniel 9:23-27, wherein we read of the so-called 'seventieth week of Daniel", yet another descriptor of the tribulation period. Daniel 9:26b-27 tells us the following about the Tribulation period:

"and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. 27 And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

    It is in this passage that we first gain access to the time frame of this period - seven years.  Daniel's prophecy also unfolds another chronological feature: that this seven year period will be at the end of a 490 year period of time prescribed for Israel by God with regards to His program for her (hence the term "Daniel's seventieth week").  The final "seven" in the prophecy will be divided into two parts of 3 1/2 years each, featuring a tyrannical ruler called "the prince", who especially in the latter half of this period will unmask his true intentions.

7. Daniel 12 reveals details about the latter 3 1/2 years of the tribulation, called "The Great Tribulation"

    We appeal again to Daniel's prophecy, this time in Daniel 12:1 

“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued." 

    Jesus refers to this text in His final public sermon - the Olivet Discourse - in Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14. We can note the importance of Daniel 12 by what Jesus says about it in Mark 13:14 

“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains."

    In so far as Jesus makes predictions of what was then the coming destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., yet the international and global scale of the scene in Daniel 12:1 tells us that Jesus is using the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D as a template for understanding what will take place in the tribulation period. As you read on down through Daniel 12, you discover the specific time frame of this vision to occur in the future and in the same latter 3 1/2 year period that Daniel spoke of in Daniel 9:23-27.  Daniel's prophecies in 9:23-27 and chapter 12 form the foundation of Jesus' teachings on the tribulation period in His Olivet discourses of Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. 

8. Amos 5:18-20 reveals the character and fearsome time that will be the Tribulation period.

    Amos'prophecy about the Tribulation period uses the phrase "Day of the Lord" to define this period. In one of the most descriptive passages, Amos gives us a taste of what this future period will be like:

"Alas, you who are longing for the day of the Lord, For what purpose will the day of the Lord be to you? It will be darkness and not light; 19 As when a man flees from a lion And a bear meets him,
Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall And a snake bites him. 20 Will not the day of the Lord be darkness instead of light, Even gloom with no brightness in it?"

9. Zechariah 14:1-4 The end of the Tribulation period witnesses the return of the Messiah to the earth. 

Zechariah 14:4 reads - "In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south."

    This final look at the teaching of the tribulation period in the Old Testament reveals that this future era will close with Jesus coming back to earth to rescue the Jews from the Anti-Christ and warring nations. 


    In this fly-over of the Bible's teaching of the Tribulation period, we have attempted to look at the major Old Testament Prophecies that speak specifically about it. We have concluded the following:

1. It will be an unprecedented time of human history, occurring at the end of this age. Being that the Old Testament predicts its uniqueness, the likelihood of it referring to a general pattern of tribulation that covers the church age or some other broad period of history is pretty slim.

2. The Tribulation period's primary purposes include judging the world and preparing Israel to meet her Messiah

3. The Tribulation period's duration will be seven years. The first half is hardly mentioned, with the overwhelming focus on the events of the latter 3 1/2 years that Jesus calls later on "The Great Tribulation" in light of Daniel's prophecies.

4. A Tyrannical ruler, called "Anti-Christ", will attempt to blaspheme God and lead the whole world astray in outright rebellion again God. 

5. Christ's rapture of the church will precede this event. His return to earth to rescue Israel will close out this period of time. The rapture and His second coming constitute part one and part two of His overall return, with the tribulation nested in between both. 


Sunday, March 12, 2023

The Major Bible Passages On The Rapture Of The Church


    In the last post, I introduced what is known as "the doctrine of the rapture", or what is sometimes called "The Lord's return for His Church". For readers interested in the last post, simply click on the following link here

    In today's post I want to lay out the major passages in the New Testament that touch upon this doctrine. At this point I'm not going to expound on where the rapture fits in relationship to other future events. Such considerations have their place and importance. Instead, it is vital that we first have all the Biblical data, considered in each passage's context.

    The overwhelming themes of the New Testament's teaching on the rapture of the church is three-fold: comfort, hope, and expectation. On several occasions we find the theme of comfort in passages that teach about the rapture of the church (see for instance 1 Thessalonians 4:18). We can also reference the theme of hope, that is, hope in the Lord Jesus Christ for those who are living day by day in light of His soon return (see Titus 2:13 for example). Then thirdly, the theme of expectation resonates through the texts below, since the rapture is an "imminent" future event, that is, it could happen at any time with no preceeding signs heralding its arrival (see 1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

    The passages below are culled from studies, various Bible teachers, and books I've read over the years. It is hoped that in assembling these texts, fruitful study on this vital truth can be done by those so interested.

Main Testament passages that refer to the rapture of the church.

1. John 14:1-3 - “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."

2. 1 Corinthians 1:7-9 "so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."

3. 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."

4. Philippians 1:6 "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

5. Philippians 1:10 "so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ."

6. Philippians 2:16 "holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain."

7. Philippians 3:20 "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."

8. Colossians 3:4 "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ".

9. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 "For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come."

10. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words."

11. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-9 "Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. 7 For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ".

12. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-7 "Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way."

13. 1 Timothy 6:14 "that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ".

14. Titus 2:13 "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus".

15. Hebrews 10:37 "For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay."

16. James 5:8 "For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay."

17. 1 John 2:28-3:3 "Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. 3:1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."

18. (Possible passage about the rapture) Revelation 3:10 "Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth."

Passages that can illustrate what the rapture is like.

1. Genesis 5:24 "Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him."

2. 2 Kings 2:9-12 "When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” 10 He said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.” 11 As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. 12 Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw Elijah no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces."

3. Acts 1:11 "They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

4. Acts 8:39 "When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing."

5. Revelation 12:5 "And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne."

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Introducing Christ’s return for His Church in the rapture


    In today's post I want to introduce readers to an important truth that is part of the "study of last things" or "eschatology". This important truth, known as "The Rapture of the Church", is the next major prophetic event that will involve a mass miracle performed by the Lord Jesus when He comes for His Church. 

A summary of the rapture.

    In offering a definition of "the rapture", we could say the following:

    The rapture is a predicted event, of unknown date, in which Jesus will appear in the clouds to resurrect dead Christians and transform the bodies of living Christians to catch them up to Himself.

    So why this strange term "rapture"?  Theologian Wayne Grudem notes that the term “rapture” comes from a Latin term “rapio”, which is used in the Latin Vulgate’s translation of the phrase "will be caught up" 1 Thessalonians 4:17. As with most theological terms, the term derives from the Latin due to Latin's influence upon the work of theology. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Paul writes the following words:

“Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

The rapture of the church, then, is when the Lord Jesus will appear in the clouds to "catch away" or "take-up", in resurrection, all Christians who deceased, and to "catch away" or "take up" in transformed bodies those Christians who are currently alive. 

    Older writers used the term "translate" to describe this same event. Incidently, the term "translate" derives from another Latin term which refers to "carrying from one place to another". The rapture of the Church is that very event in which the Lord Jesus will come in the clouds and transport Christians from earth to Himself.  In sum, to say: "rapture" then, is equivalent to stating: "to catch away".

    Jesus was the first one to mention this important doctrine in the Bible. In John 14:1-3, He speaks the following words to His disciples:

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."

    Although Jesus used a different verb than the one we find in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, the idea of receiving those who trust in Him as Savior unto Himself conveys this blessed truth known as "The Rapture of the Church".

Basic outline of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and its teaching on the rapture.

    We could turn to several New Testament passages that teach on this doctrine, however we will confine ourselves to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, since it gives a wonderful summary of the Lord's return for His church.

1. Comfort from the rapture. 1 Thessalonians 4:13,18

    The key feature of the doctrine of the rapture of the church is the comfort it conveys to the Christian. Paul writes these words in 1 Thessalonians 4:13

"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope."

    As Paul begins this section, he ends with the same tone of comfort in 1 Thessalonians 4:18 - "Therefore comfort one another with these words."

    What is remarkable to consider about other New Testament texts that teach on the rapture is how often they refer to some sort of comfort afforded by the doctrine. Note the following passages of the Scripture.

A. Comfort in loss.

    We read Jesus' words to His disciples on the eve of His crucifixion in John 14:1-3 

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

B. Comfort when laboring for the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:58 reminds us that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.

C. Comfort for daily living.

    Paul writes in Philippians 3:20-4:1 

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. 4:1 Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved." 

    We can note also 2 Thessalonians 2:2, which alludes to the rapture: "that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come."

    We are living in a world that is riddled with fear and anxiety. It is my understanding that there are over 500 categories of fear or phobias. If anything else, one of the chief fruits of consistent preaching and exposure to Biblical teaching of the rapture is the immeasurable comfort it offers. 

2. Certainty of the rapture. 1 Thessalonians 4:14

    Paul then writes next in 1 Thessalonians 4:14 "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus." Why mention Christ's death and resurrection? The certainty of His death and resurrection as historical events and spiritually grounding events are taught in the New Testament. 

    As Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 about the certainty of Christ's death and resurrection:

"Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures."

    So much is staked on what Christ achieved that Paul later writes in 1 Corinthians 15:19-20

"If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. 20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep."

    What Paul's point is in 1 Thessalonians 4:14 is this, just as certain as it is that Jesus Christ died on the cross and raised from the dead, so too is that same level of certainty in His soon return for His Church in the rapture.

3. Quick coming of the rapture. 1 Thess 4:15-17

    So, we have looked at the meaning of the the term "rapture"; the comfort of the rapture and its certainty. On this final thought about our introduction to Christ's return for His church in the rapture, we will note the quickness of its approach. 

    Theologians have noted that the rapture will have no accompanying signs preceeding it. Unlike the return of Christ to the earth, the return of Christ for His church will come when least expected. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

"For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord."

    Paul describes the event of the rapture or "catching away" without telling us when it will happen or what to look for before it happens. The emphasis here is that of how sudden the occurrance of the rapture will be. He writes these words in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52

"Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."

    Theologians refer to this feature of the rapture as "imminency", meaning that it could happen at anytime. At anytime, the Lord could appear in the clouds and all the graves of those Christians who died before us would be ripped open. A split second after deceased Christians are resurrected, those Christians who are alive will experience the transformative effects on their bodies, with both groups defying gravity and exiting up through the clouds to be with Jesus. 

    The bodies of every believer will be rendered immortal - never subject to decline and death. The Apostle John notes this truth in connection with the Lord Jesus Christ in 1 John 3:2-3

"Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."
    This greatest of mass miracles is the next prophetic event. The exciting thing is we do not know when it will occur. All we know is that once it happens, other prophetic events will come forth like dominoes, one after the other. Until then, all Christians are encouraged to look ahead and look up - for the Lord Jesus will come in a moment, in the twinkling of any eye!

Friday, March 3, 2023

The Doctrine of Scripture Series - Jesus In All 66 Books Of The Bible - Jesus Is Explained In The Epistles


    A few posts ago we were working our way through the books of the Bible, section by section, with the aim to understand how Jesus is revealed in the 66 books of the Bible. In today's post, I want to pick up on where we had left off in finding Him in the Book of Acts by noting how we see Jesus in the New Testament letters. Readers may review that particular post here

    As we survey the New Testament, we find it is divided into four sections (The Gospels, Acts, The Epistles, and Revelation). The Gospels portray the incarnate Christ, eternal in Deity, coming into our world to add a human nature to His Person through the virgin-birth. It is in the Gospels we see "the Word made flesh" (John 1:14), "Immanuel" or "God-with-us" (Matthew 1:23) coming to be also "man-for-us", Jesus, the One who would save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). The incarnate Son of God, in His humanity, would minister, die, rise from the dead, and ascend into Heaven (Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20-21).

    As we come to know the Christ portrayed in the Gospels, we come to know Him as the "pre-Pentecost Jesus", which is to say, as the incarnate-yet-not-glorified Christ. Once the Lord Jesus died and arose from the grave, His humiliation state spoken of in Philippians 2:5-8 would end. His exaltation (covering His resurrection to ascension through to His soon return), spoken of in Philippians 2:9-11, would begin. 

    The Lord Jesus would still retain (and will always have) His human nature - physical, bodily, finite. However, that human nature would become a glorified, resurrected nature. In the forty days intervening between His resurrection and ascension, our Lord would make a dozen appearances to followers and skeptics alike as the physically, resurrected Christ. Once our Lord would ascend into Heaven, this meant that the Father would send the Holy Spirit in His name.

    As we saw in Acts, the second major division in the New Testament, Jesus Christ, exalted in the Heavens as our Prophet, Priest, and King, is able to be with His church through the sending of the Spirit. This is what we noted as the "post-Pentecost Christ", meaning that the Person of the Son (still truly God and ever truly man), localized in Heaven as per His human nature; is by His Deity, shared with the Holy Spirit and the Father as One God, able to be with His people until He comes (Matthew 28:18--20; Acts 1:11-14). We do right to distinguish between the Persons of the Holy Spirit and the Son, while recognizing that the Holy Spirit's main job is to transmit and bring to us the Person of the Son of God as "God with us" and "man for us". 

    What Jesus is able to do now as "the post-pentecost Christ" far exceeds what we saw in the Gospels. As we prepare to journey into the New Testament letters or "epistles", we find all 21 of them devoted to two primary goals. 

    First, to explain all that has transpired in the wake of Christ's current ministry as the exalted, post-Pentecost Christ until His return. Then, the second goal of the New Testament letters is to explain how the Christian is to operate and live in carrying forth the great commission; love the Lord God and love others, and walk in the light of the Holy Spirit Who points them to fix their mind on Jesus Christ. 

    In every New Testament letter, we find the first section devoted to imparting to us sound doctrine about Christ, our relationship to Him, and the riches we have with Him in the heavenly realms as we live by His Holy Spirit in reaching souls for His sake. The second sections of the New Testament letters spell out the practical realities of these truths, whether marriage, raising children, working a job, working in the home, or fellowshipping in the local church.

    With that summary and introduction, I'll attempt to summarize how we find Jesus in the New Testament letters. Keep in mind that these are but faint outlines to whet our appetite to explore each letter in detail. As we embark upon the letters (also referred to as "Epistles"), we find their purpose to be that of explaining Christ in terms of what He did, and what He is continuing to do in Heaven as our Prophet, Priest, and King. And so, we continue in our study.

Romans= Jesus is our justifier.

      The doctrine of justification by faith asserts that upon saving trust in Christ's work of salvation, the sinner is declared righteous or acceptable by God apart from any merit. In justification, the grounds of right standing lies not in the sinner, but is credited to the the sinner from Jesus' accomplished life, death, and resurrection. Jesus, being God and man, is the Just One. He is the judge of all the earth. In becoming man for our sakes and going to the cross, Jesus took all our sins upon Himself, having credited to Himself our sin and unrigtheousness. This truth of "crediting someone else's work" is called "imputation". Jesus Christ is our justifier. Romans key verses in spelling out these truths are found in Romans 1:16-17; 3:21-26; 5:8; and 8:32-39.

1 Corinthians=Jesus is our Sanctifier

      In 1 Corinthians 1:30, we read of how Jesus Christ is "our wisdom, holiness, and sanctification". Justification is that one time judicial act whereby God declares the believing sinner to be legal right before His sight with the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. What follows from the legal act of justification is the practical, experiential process of sanctification, wherein the believer grows in their exercise of practical righteousness. Jesus Christ is the source of imputed righteousness and practical righteousness for the Christ.

2 Corinthians = Jesus is the glory of God

     What is God's glory? God's glory is the refracted sum total of His goodness, attributes, and being made visible within Himself and then to us. Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, would come to manifest His Divine glory through His incarnation (see 2 Corinthians 4:1-6). Paul's point in writing 2 Corinthians was to urge all of us to heed the call to be Christ's ambassadors. We take His message forth as we view Him with unveiled faces, taking pleasure in His glory.

Galatians = Jesus is our sin bearer

      Galatians was written to proclaim the Gospel and to warn of the heresy of the Judiazers, which claimed one could be right with God by lawkeeping, circumcision, and right moral behavior. The problem is, the law cannot wash away the guilt of sin. Paul's central argument for Jesus being our sin-bearer is found in Galatians 3:10-13. He bore the curse of the Law, which expressed the ultimate curse God pronounced on Adam and Eve. Only when we trust in Christ alone,can the curse of sin be removed, with Christ's credited righteousness in justification being declared over the believing sinner.

Ephesians = Jesus is our beloved.

      Ephesians is the treasure chest of the Epistles. Paul prays in Ephesians 1:18-20 that the eyes of his readers would be open to all they have in Christ. Jesus Christ is called "the beloved" in Ephesians 1:4-5. In that wondrous truth of God's elective purpose of grace in choosing certain sinners before the foundation of the world, it is the Father who directed His love toward the beloved Son. 

    In so doing, He formulated the plan that would call forth sinners from every nation to believe the Gospel. The Holy Spirit would be the One sent by the Father and ther Son to perform this calling. In salvation, the call of the Spirit of God comes to my heart, awakening me to receive God's gifting of faith to believe on Jesus Christ, the Beloved One, who first loved me.

Philippians = Jesus our humble Savior

      Philippians 2:5-11 features the most extensive passage on the incarnation of the Son of God. The key to Christ's incarnation lies in His humility. Theologians call His coming into our world His "humiliation". Once He goes to the cross and dies, His resurrection begins what is termed His "exalatation", culminating in His ascension and enthronement in Heaven. This wonderful humility is to be emulated by His people (see Philippians 2:1-5).

Colossians = Jesus is Supreme

      Colossians emphasizes the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all things. In Colossians 1:13-20, we see nearly fifteen characteristics of the Lord Jesus Christ, among which being Him as the Creator and Sustainer of all things, as well as Head over His Church.

1 Thessalonians = Jesus the Soon Coming King

      1 Thessalonians draws our attention to what will be Christ's soon return. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 highlights the doctrine of the rapture of the church - that event in which Jesus will appear in the clouds to snatch up believers, raising to life and glory those having died, and transforming those yet being alive, with the goal to take them to be with Him. 1 Thessalonians 5 then teaches the Second Coming of Christ to earth, which will occur subsequent to the rapture of the church. Both events together constitute parts one and two of Christ's return, with a time interval of seven years in between called "The Great Tribulation" (see Daniel 9:23-27; Matthew 24).

2 Thessalonians = Jesus, the defeater of His enemies

       2 Thessalonians further elaborates upon what Jesus will do against his foes in the time between the rapture and His second coming. We know that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Supreme Judge. No matter what Satan may try to do against the church now, his time is short.

1Timothy = Jesus, the Mystery of Godliness

      1 Timothy is written to a young pastor named Timothy to give instructions on how the church ought to conduct itself before the Lord. 1 Timothy 3:14-16 is central to the overall argument of 1 Timothy. The Church is the "pillar of foundation of truth", carrying forth that wondrous mystery of the Eternal Son of God having been made flesh for our sakes.

2 Timothy=Jesus, the subject of Scripture

      Paul writes again to young Pastor Timothy to "preach the Word" (2 Timothy 3:16-4:2). The Bible, the Written Word of God, is in a continual relationship with Jesus Christ, the Living Word. 2 Timothy 4:1-2 portrays the act of preaching as taking place before the throne of Christ. It is Christ who is the center and circumference of the preaching of the Bible.

Titus=Jesus, the grace of God.

      Paul writes a short letter to a young Pastor named "Titus", urging him to establish elders on the small Island of Crete. It is in Titus 2:11 that we read about the Lord Jesus Christ: "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men." Grace is not just an abstract concept or even just about God's unmerited favor toward sinners. Grace is the sum of all who Christ is and did. Grace tells us that God came Himself in the Person of the Son to become man for our sake.

Philemon=Jesus our forgivness

      Philemon is the shortest of Paul's letters, written to Philemon, urging him to forgive a runaway slave named Onesimus. Philemon's message of forgiveness is based upon what Jesus achieved on the cross. To forgive means "to let go". In Christ, the guilt and offense of the sinner's sinful condition before God is "let go", replaced by Christ's righteousness in saving faith.

Hebrews=Jesus our High Priest

      As to who wrote Hebrews, no one is certain. Although I still lean toward Paul being the author, there are good reasons for thinking it was someone else. Regardless of who wrote the letter, it bears the marks of Divine inspiration. In Hebrews we see the threads of the Old Testament being tied together in Jesus Christ. The theme of "better than" resounds throughout the book. Jesus is better than the angels (Hebrews 1); better than Moses (Hebrews 2); better than Joshua (Hebrews 3-4); better than Melchizedek and Abraham (Hebrews 5-7); better than the Old Covenant (Hebrews 8); and better than the Levitical priesthood and temple sacrifices (Hebrews 9-11). Only Jesus is fit to represent believers as their Permanent High Priest.

James=Jesus is the Judge

      James was the half brother of Jesus according to the flesh. In James 5:9, Jesus is depicted as the Judge standing at the door. We know this to be Jesus because all judgment and power was committed to Him by the Father (see Matthew 25 and Matthew 28:18).

1 Peter=Jesus our Precious Cornerstone

      Peter's first letter is addressed to a people scattered across what would be modern Turkey and Armenia. The Christian is portrayed as a pilgrim passing through this world. It would seem that the Christian's life is not valued by our world, and the Christ whom they follow is detested even more. Nevertheless, regardless of what the world thinks, 1 Peter 2 reminds us that Jesus Christ is that precious cornerstone, rejected by the world but precious to us who believe.

2 Peter=Jesus, our Heavenly hope

       One of the most comforting passages is found in 2 Peter 1:10-11 "Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you." Jesus is shown to be the heavenly hope of the Christian. He is the One who is building that everlasting city and the New Heavens and Earth, wherein dwells righteousness (2 Peter 3:13).

1 John=Jesus, the lover in my soul

      We saw in Ephesians how Jesus Christ is the beloved, the object of the Christian's affections. We can note as well that as Jesus Christ occupies the Christian by the Holy Spirit, it is He who enables us to love Him. 1 John 4:19 reminds us: "we love Him, because He first loved us".

2&3 John=Jesus is the health of my soul.

       John would write these two short letters to urge health in spiritual matters (2 John) and to urge health in the daily life of the church (3 John). Sound belief (orthodoxy) must accompany sound living (orthopraxy). At the center of orthodoxy and orthopraxy is the Eternal God/man, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jude=Jesus, the foundation of faith

      Jude wrote this short little letter to remind his readers: "contend for the faith once and for all delivers to the saints" (Jude 1:3). Throughout Jude's letter, He reminds his readers that certain heretics will attempt to steal their trust in Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, Jude ends with one of the strongest statements that pertain to how Jesus Christ is the foundation and preserver of faith, Jude 1:24-25: "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."

More next time....

Friday, February 24, 2023

A Recent Peer-Reviewed Scientific Journal Gives Evidence That Matches The Genesis Account


    The above photograph is from the James Webb Telescope and is featured on "", as well as the latest issue of the scientific journal "Nature". The little blobs of light in the pictures may not look impressive. However, as astronomers have examined the light coming from these distant galaxies, they have made some discoveries that match better with the Biblical doctrine of creation than standard secular models of the formation of the universe. In the "Nature" journal article, the spectra of light from the above galaxies indicates that each little blob of light contains hundreds of millions to tens of billions of stars. 

    In the most recent issue of the scientific journal "Nature", astronomers chronicle the latest findings of several distance galaxies that, according to the standard astronomical timeline, occured within 600 million years of the Big Bang. Now I won't go into the issues I have with the Big Bang or the standard timeline that postulates our universe being 13.7 billion years old. (I affirm what is called a "Young Earth" or "Young Universe" Model, which means that I understand Genesis 1 to teach that all the physical creation was made by God in a standard week of six twenty-four hour days. Per the standard secular cosmological timeline, the galaxies in question are alleged to be in a part of the universe where the universe was less than 5% of its current age.) 

    What I will point out instead is how troubling some find this evidence to be, since the James Webb Telescope has found alleged "mature galaxies" in our universe's history which ought not to had formed until much, much later. 

Biblical Creation Helps Us See The Forest And The Trees.

    To put this into perspective, the findings of the James Webb Telescope is like finding fully grown trees in a distant part of a given forest where we assumed we would only find saplings. It would seem reasonable to assume that fully grown trees nearer to us would had produced second and third generation of trees that would be younger, smaller, and less mature. In our illustration, if one would instead find that every tree in our forest was at the same maturity rate, the reasonable conclusion to draw would be that all the trees were planted at the same time. Essentially, whenever one reads the article in the "Nature" periodical, the technical evidence and stellar diagrams show the presence of mature galaxies where scientists expected to find more basic, smaller, ill-formed galaxies. For those interested in the article, please click here

What the Bible tells us about the stars.

    The opening chapter of Genesis provides the most well-known account of creation in the Bible. In all, some sixty different passages speak on the subject of creation in both the Old and New Testaments. A fundamental teaching of Genesis 1 is that God created the physical universe in the same week. This short window of time alotted to God's creation of the Heavens and Earth has been opposed since the late eighteenth century. Most astronomers since that time have adopted a millions and billions of years approach to their assumption that everything in the universe evolved along a uniform rate, from simple to complex. This underlying worldview, known as "uniformitarianism", suggests that "the present is key to the past", hence, the physical rates we observe in the universe today have been the same throughout its history. 

    What follows from such an underlying assumption is that we ought to find a gradual evolution of galactic formation from the simple to the complex. Discoveries made by the James Webb Telescope have begun to seriously challenge this standard interpretation. How? By providing evidence that the earliest known galaxies are as far along in their structure and star-count as our Milky Way. While standard secular models of galactic origins and development struggle to process these findings, such evidence poses no issue with the creation model found in Genesis 1:16.

     Genesis 1:16 reveals something very intriguing: "God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also." The latter clause, "He made the stars also", indicates in the underlying Hebrew grammar that God's creation of the Sun ("the greater light") and the moon ("the lesser light") occured simultaneously with the stars. This is a startling statement. It means that every star in the universe was created at the same time as our sun and moon. 

    As one combs the Bible, it becomes very apparent that the physical universe is a very large place in regards to the number of stars. A brief listing of key Scripture passages about the stars reveals how God's creation of them points to His glory, as well as the grandeur of the creation.

1. Job 22:12 “Is not God in the height of heaven? Look also at the distant stars, how high they are!"

2. Psalm 8:3-4 "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; 4 What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?"

3. Psalm 147:4 "He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them."

4. Isaiah 40:26 "Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing."

5. Jeremiah 31:35 "Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The Lord of hosts is His name:"

6. 1 Corinthians 15:41 "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory."

    In Genesis 15:5 and Jeremiah 33:22, God indicates that no one can accurately count the number of stars in our universe. By the sixteenth century, astronomers such as Tacho Brae had calculated the number of stars to be in the thousands. It was not until 1922 that the famed Cosmologist Edwin Hubble proved that there were other galaxies beside our own. In 2016, Astronomers estimated our Milky Way Galaxy to contain between 100 to 400 billion stars, with an estimated two-trillion galaxies occupying our visible universe. 

    As scientists would study the deeper reaches of our universe, it became apparent that we could only see a small fraction of what is truly there. Some estimates have suggested that we can only see roughly 1% of the total universe and its attendant galaxies. Whenever the James Webb Telescope was launched into space over a year ago, no one expected it to radically alter how we understand the universe in such a short span of time. 

Closing thoughts:

    As with all other branches of science, there is nothing which ultimately conflicts with the Biblical account of creation. Certain presuppositions and worldviews govern how the evidence is interpreted. It is fascinating to find a secular journal such as "Nature" drawing scientific conclusions which are useful in confirming what the Bible has said for millennia - namely that every star in the universe was made at the same time. To God be the glory in showing us once again how great and mighty He is, and how small we truly are!