The timing of the resurrection is pivotal in
the end-time scenario.
Jesus repeatedly emphasized that He will raise
believers on the last day (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54. See also John 11:24 and 12:48. In
John 7:37 the last day of the feast refers to the final, great day of the
feast, just as the last day of this earth points to the final, great day of
The last day is
not equal to the last days (Acts 2:17, 2 Tim. 3:1, 2 Pet. 3:3).
Please read the texts mentioned above. The
phrases differ in both content and language.
The phrase, "the last day," (singular) points
to one event, the resurrection, on a specific day.
The phrase, "the last days," (plural) mentions many events occurring
between the first and second coming of Christ.
In Greek, there is an
eight letter difference between the two phrases (the last day =
té eschaté hémera; the last days = tais eschatais hémerais).
The plural affects the article, adjective, and noun. It is not a mere slip
of the pen. Martin Luther expressed the
difference in meaning in his German translation. He used "am Jüngsten
Tage" for "on the last day" (singular), and "in den letzten Tagen" for "in
the last days" (plural), except for John 7:37.
The literal interpretation of the last day
has solid scriptural support. Daniel (12:2),
Jesus (Matt. 25:31-34, 41, John 5:28-29),
Paul (Acts 24:15), and John (Rev. 20:12-13) affirm
one resurrection for the saved and the doomed.
This one resurrection will occur
at Christ’s return according to Matthew (24:30-31),
Mark (13:26-27), John (6:39, 40, 44,
54, 1 John 3:2), and Paul (1
Cor. 15:23, 52, Phil. 3:20-21, 1 Thess. 4:16-17).
Jesus clearly puts His return after the tribulation and cosmic disturbances
Christ does not mention the rapture in his prophecies about the end time (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21).
The resurrection on the
last day eliminates the notion of any earlier resurrections of deceased
believers. (Those brought back to life by Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, Peter,
and Paul stayed in their old bodies and later died again). Putting the
resurrection 1007 years before the last day contradicts the words of Jesus
in John 6:39, 40, 44, and 54.
It is as
simple as 2 + 2 = 4.
Because Jesus said the resurrection will occur on the last day, the
resurrection Paul referred to (in 1 Thess. 4:16-17 and 1
Cor. 15:51-55) must
also occur on the last day. Paul did not contradict Jesus.
Accepting one resurrection on the last day
demands a spiritual explanation of the first
resurrection (Rev. 20:5).
Christ made reconciliation between God
and man possible by His redemption. When people—dead in their sins—are
saved by Christ, the Bible depicts the event as a spiritual resurrection
(John 5:24-25, Rom. 6:4-7, Eph. 2:5-6, Col. 2:13). By conversion (the first
resurrection), Christians escape hell (the second death, Rev. 20:1-5).
Christ’s reign of a thousand years, known as
the Millennium, must be understood in the light
of these perspectives.
As the eternal Son of God, Christ reigns all the time (Ps. 2, John 1:1, 14, 8:58, Matt. 28:18, Col.
1:15-17). Though He humbled Himself
temporarily for our redemption, He resumed His position as Lord when He
returned to heaven (Phil. 2:5-11, 1 Cor.
12:3). He reigns from heaven with the
triumphant church (Rev. 4:4, 5:5-10,
20:4). The saved are made priests and
kings for God (1 Pet. 2:9, Rev. 3:21,
Jesus repeatedly declined a political kingdom
in the present world.
Satan tempted Him in vain
with this kind of worldly kingdom
(Matt 4:8-10). When the Galileans
tried to crown Him king after He miraculously fed five thousand, He walked
away (John 6:15). Pontius Pilate asked Him whether He was a king;
He replied that His kingdom was not of this world (John 19:33-37).
Just before Jesus' ascension, His disciples prompted Him about the
restoration of the kingdom of Israel, but He shifted their focus to the
spiritual kingdom that the Holy Spirit would establish in and through them
In the light of Jesus’ rejection
of earthly kingdoms, it seems highly unlikely that He will return to set up
a political kingdom on the old earth. When He returns, He will be in a hurry
to get rid of the old sinful systems and to start His marriage with His
bride (Rev. 19:7).
Therefore, it seems to me in line with the
entire Scripture that the Millennium is spiritual, not political, and that
"first resurrection" is spiritual, not physical.
By the way, there is a vast difference
between the spiritual and allegorical interpretations of the Bible.
There is a deeper spiritual meaning in Jesus’ parables, but we should not
explain these allegorically by attaching arbitrary meanings to elements in
the parables (such as giving names to the birds that pick up the seeds in
the parable of the Sower).
church be in the Great Tribulation?
Some believe that Christians will be taken out of this world by the rapture
before the start of the Great Tribulation. They ground their expectations on
the words of the apostle Paul: “God did not appoint us to wrath” (1 Thess. 5:9, NKJV).
There seems to be confusion between wrath and tribulation. How
does the Bible use the two terms?
The Greek word for wrath (orgé) is used six times in the New
Testament (John 3:36, Rom. 1:18, Rom.
5:9, Rom. 12:19, Eph. 5:6, and Col. 3:6)
and the word for the anger (thumos) of God is used six times in
Revelation (14:10, 14:19, 15:1, 15:7,
16:1, and 19:15). The wrath or anger of
God (that is the last judgment) will be poured out on unbelievers, not on
The Greek word thlipsis in the New Testament is translated as
tribulation (or trouble) by the KJV and the ASV (Mat. 13:21, 24:9, 21, 29, Mark 4:17, 13:19, 24,
John 16:33, Acts 11:19, 14:22, Rom 2:9, 5:3, 8:35, 12:12, 1 Cor. 7:28, 2
Cor. 1:4, 7:4, 1 Thess. 3:4, 2 Thess. 1:6, Rev. 1:9, 2:9, 10, 22, and 7:14).
In all these cases, tribulation is suffered by Christians. Thlipsis
literally means being subjected to pressure.
Obviously, Christians will not suffer God’s wrath but they will suffer
tribulation. Jesus and the apostles warned Christians they will have
tribulation; therefore, exempting them from the Great Tribulation is not in
line with scripture (John 16:33, 1 Thess.
3:9, 1 Pet. 3:15-17, Rev. 7:14).
said the Great Tribulation will be shortened for the sake of the elect (Mat. 24:22).
presupposes that some of them will still be on earth during the Great
Tribulation. Alleging that the elect
refers to Israel only is not scriptural either; this word is used for
Gentile Christians too (Eph. 1:4, 1 Pet.
The Greek word ek-lego
(choose out) conveys the same idea as ek-kaleo (call out), the word
Jesus used to describe church/congregation (Mat. 16:18).
Peter uses both words to describe believers
of Asia Minor (1 Pet. 2:9).
Jesus prayed to the Father: “I do not pray that You should take them out of
the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15, NKJV).
Daniel and his friends were not saved FROM
the lions’ den and the furnace but IN these tribulations. In the Great
Commission, Jesus sent His disciples to proclaim the gospel to all nations,
adding He will be with them to the very end (Mat. 28:18-20, Acts 1:8).
Rev. 7:14 describes the great multitude coming
out of the Great Tribulation, and who have made their robes white in the
blood of the Lamb. Who can deny they are saved? Who can deny they come out
of the tribulation? They are part of the triumphant church.
The passage on which the rapture-theory is based (1 Thess. 4:13-18)
is just another description of Christ’s second coming, because it happens
with the resurrection, which Jesus repeatedly linked to the last day (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54),
not 1007 years before the last day.
Why is this important?
It is far better to be
prepared for reality than to live in false security and be caught unawares.
When the promised rapture does not happen and the tribulation tsunami hits
us, many of the disillusioned may give up on the faith that betrayed them.
Those who know what to expect can brace themselves emotionally and
spiritually, anchored to the Rock, Jesus Christ.
This viewpoint on the
tribulation, resurrection and the Millennium determines the end-time scenario as listed
below. God did not give us all the facts about the end-time. It is best to
stick to revealed facts and leave the rest to God (Deut. 29:29).
The end-time events and circumstances will
probably overlap. When a new one starts, the existing ones may proceed. They
all stop with Christ’s return.
1. The signs
preceding the end will occur as birth pains do—with increasing frequency and
intensity: wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, tsunamis and storms (Matt. 24:6-7, Luke 21:25, Rev. 6:1-8, 12-17).
2. A growing apostasy
will emerge in spite of worldwide evangelization (Matt. 24:12-14, 1 John 4:3, Rev. 10-11).
3. False prophets
will arise, compounding a climate of deception (Matt. 24:11, 2 Thess. 2:9-12, Rev. 13).
of the church will increase, leading to the great
tribulation (Matt. 24:9, 21, Rev. 6:9-11,
12:12-17, 13:7-8, 15, 17:6).
5. The evil trio—Antichrist,
False Prophet, and Harlot—will emerge in their final form (Matt. 24:15, Rev. 13 and 17).
6. Cosmic disturbances
in sun, moon, and stars will occur, drastically affecting life on earth (Matt. 24:29, Acts 2:19-20, Rev. 8, 16).
7. Christ will return
in glory (Matt. 24:30-31, Acts 1:9-11, Rev.