Questions and Answers


Some of these questions assume that you have first read the book. Other questions answer points not specifically covered in the book.

In Luke 12:36, why do some translations read "wedding feast"?

I don't know. I suppose it is an interpretation rather than a strict translation. My Greek New Testament, as well as the King James Version, translate it simply "wedding." So when it says "return from the wedding," I see it as the wedding processional rather than the wedding feast which occurs later.

Does Luke 17:29 prove that the rapture and the day of the Lord occur on the same day?

No, Luke 17 is not the rapture. Remember, in Luke 17 the ones who are taken end up as corpses for vultures to feed on. Furthermore, Luke 17:31 applies "that day" to a mid-tribulation event (compare Matthew 24:15–18); so if we take "day" in a strict technical sense, we can get tangled up here. All views today (pre-, post-, mid-) commonly believe that the rapture begins the day of the Lord. But the older pre-tribs separated the rapture and the day of the Lord by seven years. I think we were right the first time.

If not the rapture, then what happens on the same day? Destruction. Read the passage again. That's what it says. Some think that the day of Christ and the day of antichrist overlap. But if we believe that the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day (Isaiah 2:17) and if we believe in sudden destruction (1 Thessalonians 5:3), then we can take "same day" in its most literal sense.

How can some be peacefully working or sleeping (Luke 17:34–36) when people are crying for the mountains and rocks to fall on them (Revelation 6:16–17)?

"When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them" (1 Thessalonians 5:3). The scene in Revelation 6, where they cry for the mountains and rocks to fall on them, I believe happens after the unbelievers are taken and cast into the winepress of the wrath of God (Revelation 14:19).

In 2 Thessalonians 2:8 why do some say that antichrist is not entirely consumed immediately, but merely "paralyzed" or "rendered useless"?

Perhaps some Greek scholar has more light than I have, but my research shows that the usage of the Greek word for "consume" outside of the Bible falls into two general categories. First, the commercial usage refers to sums of money or expenses. One reference translates "useless expense will be stopped" (The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, Moulton and Milligan, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, p. 35). The word "expense" in the quotation is our word in the noun form. The word "useless" is a different word. That's the closest reference I could find.

The second meaning, "destroy," occurs both outside and inside the Bible. Only the second meaning occurs inside the Bible. For example, Luke 9:54 says, "Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias [Elijah] did?"

More to the point, however; more relevant than usage of the word outside the Bible, more relevant than usage inside the Bible, is the parallel passage Isaiah 11:4: "With the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked." That parallels 2 Thessalonians 2:8: "Whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth."

The corresponding word used in that parallel passage Isaiah 11:4 (in the Greek Septuagint translation) regularly means to kill utterly. See for example, Deuteronomy 13:15, 1 Samuel 15:18, Job 6:9, and Isaiah 37:36. See especially Daniel 7:11, "I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame."

Can I say it often enough? A concordance is a Bible student's best friend. It puts you into the driver's seat instead of the passenger seat.

Why is the rapture not mentioned in Revelation?

This question assumes that the trumpet sound of Revelation 4:1 is not a symbolic representation of the rapture. We already have a full description of the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4; so all we need now is the timing of it.

I know of only one other passage in Revelation that anyone claims to be a representation of the rapture. Revelation 14:14–16 describes a reaping. But Joel 3:13 shows that the sickle swings in judgment, not rapture.

But beyond those little quibbles, something bigger is going on here. Because the major portion of Revelation, chapters 4–19, describe the events leading up to the Lord's return in glory, this tells me that the focus of the book lies in a different direction. We see the same focus in 2 Thessalonians. Our prayer now and in heaven is one and the same. We long for the rule of righteousness, not mere relief and relaxation.

Why does Revelation describe events on earth during the tribulation if we won't be on earth?

I should also ask, why does Revelation describe events in heaven if we won't be in heaven? Believers live in both heaven and earth during that time. The door of heaven opened for John, and God revealed to him earthly events from a heavenly point of view. Others with him in heaven also look down with great interest upon the earthly events. Conversely, those on earth will need the heavenly perspective in order to get through this time.

Does Revelation 2:22 prove that compromising believers enter the tribulation?

The passage reads:

Verse 20: "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols."

Verse 21: "And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not."

Verse 22: "Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds."

Verse 23: "And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works."

Verse 24: "But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden."

My first instinct, when I read this passage years ago, was that verse 22 referred to unbelievers in the church. This conforms with the letters to some of the other churches in Revelation 2–3 where unbelievers seem to be described.

But recently it was pointed out to me that verse 20 says "my servants." Can "my servants" be unbelievers?

Then I pondered whether the "great tribulation" in verse 22 was the end-time tribulation or an earlier tribulation. If the letters to the churches apply to both the first generation and our generation, then a first-generation tribulation must be in view. But at the same time I couldn't rule out the end-time tribulation. Comparing Revelation 2:10 which speaks of "tribulation ten days" and Revelation 2:22 which speaks of "great tribulation," the first doesn't seem to fit the end-time tribulation, but the latter may fit.

I read the passage several times before I noticed what was obvious the whole time. Between verse 20 ("my servants") and verse 22 ("great tribulation") comes another verse. Verse 21 represents a space of time, and a lot can happen during that time, namely repentance.

Jezebel doesn't repent it says, but I would hope that "my servants" do repent. The same author who wrote Revelation also wrote 1 John, and there he teaches that true believers don't continue in sin. Does the same principle hold true here?

Verse 23 implies that those cast into great tribulation also are killed with death. Does that sound like believers or unbelievers? In any case, the time for repentance is now, not later.

Verse 24 begins with "But unto you I say," talking to believers again.

Does the great multitude in Revelation 7:9 represent raptured saints?

Because they have palm branches in their hands, some infer that they have bodies, that they are resurrected. Have they read Luke 16:22–24? There we read about the bosom of Abraham, the tip of Lazarus' finger, and the tongue of the rich man. The unresurrected soul, therefore, is spoken of in terms of body parts that we understand.

What about holding palm branches? Angels, who are spirit beings, hold things, like trumpets and vials.

Who is the multitude? One of the twenty-four elders answers that for us. "And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:13–14).

In other words, these are those who came out of the tribulation rather than those of previous generations who died before the tribulation.

We are also asked, where is the church in this scene? If the multitude is not the church, then why isn't the church there to greet them? That question assumes that the twenty-four elders do not represent the church. The fact is, one of the elders is right there on the spot to introduce them.

Who is the multitude? Personally, I think they are the fulfillment of Revelation 6:11. The souls under the altar were given white robes and were told that others would join them. To see this great multitude, also with white robes, is very encouraging indeed.

Just as the elders in chapter 4 fulfill promises of the previous chapter, so also the multitude in chapter 7 fulfills the previous chapter. The narrative flows, does it not?

If the rapture happens during the time of the two witnesses (Revelation 11), as some believe, then why don't the two witnesses go up in the rapture?

Good question.

Is Satan bound now? Are we in the millennium now?

Rather than being bound, Satan now roams the earth (1 Peter 5:7), and he has access to heaven and accuses the brethren before God, just like he did in Job's day (Job 1:7–12). He will be cast out of heaven in the middle of the tribulation (Revelation 12:7–13), and he will be bound after the tribulation (Revelation 20:1–2).

Why does John 6 say that the resurrection is at the last day?

"And this is the will of Him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40).

Yes, there is a resurrection at the last day. When exactly does it happen? Revelation 20:4–6 talks about this resurrection. Notice that it happens after Christ sets foot upon earth, after He casts the beast into the lake of fire, after He destroys the Armageddon armies, and after Satan is cast into the bottomless pit. Therefore, this resurrection happens too late to be the rapture resurrection when we meet the Lord in the air.

You may take the "last day" of John 6 in either a strict sense or in an all-inclusive sense. If you prefer to take it in the strict sense, meaning the last day after the tribulation, then the resurrection of John 6 is the same resurrection as Revelation 20. On the other hand, if you take the last day of John 6 in the all-inclusive sense, then it may include both the rapture resurrection and the Revelation 20 resurrection.

Either way you choose to take it, if you consider John 6 hand in hand with Revelation 20, then John 6 does not prove a post-trib rapture.

Do you believe in a "secret" rapture?

Post-tribs poke fun at a secret rapture, saying that it is nowhere taught in the Bible. On this point, as on many points, they may be right.

How did Christ ascend to heaven (Acts 1:9)? Did He go up secretly or openly? How will the two witnesses ascend to heaven (Revelation 11:12)? Secretly or openly? How did Elijah go up (2 Kings 2:11–12)? Secretly or openly? In every case, the answer is openly. In the case of Enoch (Genesis 5:24), it's not so clear. But if everyone knew that God took him, then maybe it wasn't so secret.

My book may be in error. It doesn't exactly teach a secret rapture, but in one place it speculates that maybe the world thinks we were taken away by UFOs. But now meditate on Revelation 13:6:

"And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven."

Who today blasphemes those who dwell in heaven? Instead of blaspheming those who dwell in heaven, don't unbelievers ridicule the very idea of heaven? There's no heaven and no hell, they say. So why blaspheme those who dwell in heaven? Let's approach the question a different way. Since the man of sin claims to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:4), wouldn't he want to claim that heaven is on his side? Why is heaven his enemy? Why does the world leader during the tribulation blaspheme those who dwell in heaven? Could it be that he saw the believers ascend up to heaven?

But, you say, doesn't all this happen in the twinkling of an eye? It's true that we shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:52). But it doesn't say that we shall go up in the twinkling of an eye. When we hear the trumpet sound that fills the sky, will we have a moment to say to that one standing next to us "That's my cue"? I don't know. If we're near a graveyard, will we have a chance to greet those who rise before we all rise together? I don't know. Will we ascend as slowly as Christ ascended? I don't know. But I tend to think that it will happen slowly enough that we can enjoy the ride.

Should we interpret the Bible in light of current events?

Just the opposite. We should interpret current events in light of the Bible. Even though we see Israel as a nation, even though we see the European Union evolving, even though we see the powers of the north and of the east, all of these are the mere setting of the stage in preparation for prophecy yet to be fulfilled. When you arrive early for a play, you may hear sounds behind the curtain. That means they're getting ready, but the actual play has not yet begun. We can guess that this event might relate to that prophecy, but the proof of it comes when the actual prophecy is completed.

Why does God allow opposing views?

Like a diamond on velvet, the truth shines more clearly against the backdrop of opposing views. Some of the best teaching in the New Testament arises in response to error. Paul wrote Galatians to show that the liberty of grace supercedes the bondage of the law. John wrote his first epistle to argue that Christ truly did come with a tangible body that you could touch and to explain the spiritual implications of that premise. What would we do without these precious books?

These are extreme examples. I'm grateful that the rapture discussion involves teachers on the same side of grace and on the same side of Christ's identity. But I can say personally, that I would not have gotten into the subject as deeply if it were not for opposing teaching. I like to think that I welcome opposing views, because it provides an opportunity to explain the truth more clearly. That's what I like to think, but in actuality sometimes wrongful use of the Word of God makes my blood boil. But that's another story.

At any rate, opposing views provide an incentive to dig into the Bible. Some may get into the Bible out of a pure love for the Lord. That's great. Others may be driven to the Bible by deep trouble. That's great too. Still others go to the Bible to figure out truth and error. Whatever it takes to get us into the Bible, I'm all in favor of it.

In my case, I began this study out of intellectual curiosity to figure things out. But the study ended up changing my perspective on life with more eternal values.

Do you have suggestions for teaching this material to a class?

1. Begin with Chapter 12 and clearly explain the two kinds of unity in Ephesians 4.

2. Emphasize principles of interpretation and how you arrive at conclusions. When someone doesn't agree, you can say, "You may not agree, but at least I hope you can see why I believe this."

3. Assign take-home projects, such as looking up words in a concordance. (Englishman's Greek Concordance is best, because you can trace the actual Greek word rather than its various translations.)

May I have permission to use this material?

Yes, you may use any of this material for non-profit purposes.