In the last written message of the Apostle Paul, he declared that for him and for all that loved the Lord’s appearing, there was laid up a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, would give in THAT DAY. II Timothy 4:8. In that same last message Paul wrote, “the Lord is able to keep “my deposit” against THAT DAY. II Timothy 1:12. Again, in verse eighteen of the first chapter, “the Lord grant unto Onesiphorus that he may find mercy of the Lord in THAT DAY.
Now the question: “What day is THAT DAY?” Paul wrote to the assembly where Timothy had ministered’ “ye are sealed unto the DAY of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30. What is to take place on the DAY of redemption is declared in Philippians 3:20 and 21: “Our citizenship is in the heavenlies: from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our body of humiliation that it may be fashioned like unto His body of glory.” And, in another Epistle, written about the same time, Paul wrote, that believers were “looking for that blessed hope, the glorious appearing (epiphaneia epiphaino-brightness) of the great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13. And in still another Epistle: “When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear (phaino) -shine), then shall ye also (phaino)-shine) with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:4. This word “appear” comes from the same Greek word “phos” from which the word “phosphorescent” is derived.
In the First Epistle of John the believer is exhorted not to be ashamed before Him at His coming (parousia)presence) when He shall appear (phaneroo) shining). I John 2:28. “When He shall appear (phaneroo), we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is”. I John 3:2. This was the blessed hope of the believers to whom John wrote. I John 3:3.
IS THE HOPE OF JOHN 3:2 THE HOPE OF TITUS 2:3?
We are asking this question because God’s people are being disturbed by a new teaching that these two hopes were entirely different hopes. The student of the Word of God is instructed to distinguish between things that differ. Philippians 1:10. And if these hopes are entirely different hopes, we desire to distinguish between them.
Because John wrote, “it is the last time,” it, is the opinion of those who differentiate: between these hopes, that John was referring to the coming of Jesus Christ, the same coming of Jesus Christ mentioned in Matthew 24:37, the “parousia” (presence) of the Son of man. They declare that this hope was the hope of the Corinthians, Galatians and Thessalonians, but not the hope of the Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians. They opine that the hope of the Body of Christ is not the coming of Jesus Christ; that the glorious appearing of the Great God, our Saviour Jesus Christ, has no reference to the coming of Jesus Christ. They furthermore claim that there is not the slightest suggestion of any coming of Jesus Christ in Philippians 3:20 and 21: “our body fashioned unto His own body of glory” or in Colossians 3:3 and 4, “appearing with Him in glory when He appears in glory.” When the “Acts” period closed, a new church began, the Body of Christ, with a new calling and new hope.
Surely this teaching is rather disconcerting to Christians who have been led into the “premillennialism” taught by most Fundamentalists. It has been difficult enough to oppose organized “postmillennialism” and make as much progress in dispensationalism as has been made by teachers who have propagated, what might be called, “Plymouth Brethren premillennialism”, the doctrine of the imminent return of the Lord; the teaching that in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the Lord shall descend with the shout and the trump, at which time the dead in Christ shall be raised and we which are alive and remain shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and ever be with Him. I Thessalonians 4:13 to 18; I Corinthians 15:51 to 54.
Now it is rather a radical departure from this standardized premillennialism to the teaching of other premillennialists today: that I Thessalonians 4:13 to 18 and I Corinthians 15:23 and I Corinthians 15:51 to 53, describing the rapture of the (Church of God, speak of the parousia (presence) of the Lord Jesus Christ. These scriptures refer to the second coming of the Son of man to save “tribulation” saints. The Greek word “`parousia” is used in I Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 5:23; II Thessalonians 2:1; James 5:7 and 8; I Corinthians 15:23: also in Matthew 24:27 and 24:37 and 39.
Much of God’s glorious truth, down through the Christian centuries, has been buried beneath man-made church creeds and traditions of apostate leaders, and the recovery of Body truth has met with much bitter religious opposition. Therefore it has been slow, tedious work, a very difficult task and, in many respects, a most unpleasant one. Because of these facts, Bereans are not primarily interested in whether a teaching is disconcerting to some Christians or by them considered, radical. The all important question is, “is the teaching the rightly divided Word of truth?” Is the blessed hope of Titus 2:13 and Philippians 3:20 and 2,1 altogether different from the rapture of I Thessalonians 4:13 to 18?
Then we ask several questions: “Is it rightly dividing the Word of truth to teach that the last trump of I Corinthians 15:52 is the seventh (or last) trumpet of Revelation 13:15, and therefore, the rapture of I Corinthians 15:51 to 53 is the rapture of the “tribulation” saints and not the rapture of the Body of Christ? Because there is also a trump in Matthew 24:31 and I Thessalonians 4:16, is that proof positive that in these two chapters we have the record of the rapture of the same “tribulation” saints mentioned in Revelation and I Corinthians 15:51 to 53? This is part of the Scriptural evidence offered by certain Premillenarians in support of this new dispensationalism. We state again that according to their exegesis, the hope of members of the church of God, mentioned in the Book of Acts, I and II Thessalonians, I and II Corinthians, Galatians and Romans, (Epistles written during the “Acts” period) was I Thessalonians 4:13 to 18 and I Corinthians 15:51 to 53, a hope different from the blessed hope of Titus 2:13 and Philippians 3:20 and 21. This blessed hope is the hope of members of the Body of Christ in Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Titus and II Timothy (Epistles written after the “Acts” period closed), and our hope. If I Thessalonians 4:13 to 18 is our hope the Body of Christ is headed for the “great tribulation”.
In I Timothy 6:14 Paul instructed his son, Timothy, to keep the commandment until the “appearing (epi-phaino), of our Lord Jesus Christ. I Timothy 6:14. But it is claimed that the hope in the Epistle is rather uncertain, as the date of this Epistle is uncertain, whether before or after Acts 28:25 to 28. However, the same appearing (epi-phaino) is mentioned in II Timothy 4:1. And, according to this verse, the Lord Jesus Christ is to judge the living and the dead at His appearing. This is not “parousia”. The judgment of saints, according to I Corinthians 4:5 and II Corinthians 5:10, they claim is at Christ’s “parousia” and not His “Epiphinaea”.
Much importance in support of this new “premillennialism” is attached to the words of I Corinthians 7:29, “the time is short” and the words of Romans 16:20, “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly”. If Corinthian saints were instructed not to bear children, because the time was short, and if Paul later wrote that women should marry and bear children, in I Timothy 5:14, the dispensation in which the saints of Corinth lived, came suddenly to an end, and immediately after the close of the “Acts” period a new dispensation, with an entirely new calling and hope began with the historical beginning of the Body of Christ after God’s judgment upon Israel. Acts 28:25 to 28. According to this separating of Paul’s Epistles, the “till He come”, in connection with the Lord’s Supper, spoke of the coming of I Thessalonians 4:13 to 18, and, inasmuch as God postponed that coming and Israel’s tribulation, the believer’s obligation to remember the Lord at His table was canceled with the beginning of a new Church, the Body of Ephesians 1:19 to 22; Ephesians 3:6 and Colossians 1:24 to 27. The expounders of this “new premillennialism” are divided as to whether the church members of Paul’s pre-prison Epistles, who lived beyond the close of the “Acts” period, became members of the later “Body” Church. But they are sure that those “Church of God” members who died before the close of the “Acts” period, died outside of the Body of Christ. They will be raised at the last trump with “tribulation” saints.
Inasmuch as you will have to meet this new teaching, would ask that you hear with as much patience as possible another fine point of distinction. The saints of the “Acts” period had a “celestial”’ hope; the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21:2 to 10. The saints of the “Post-Acts” period had a “super-celestial” hope. This latter is the hope of the Church today; our hope. The celestial” hope is supported by “mother Jerusalem” of Galatians 4:26 and “father Abraham” of Romans 4:16. Abraham was looking for a city whose builder was God. The “Acts” Church of God members were Abraham’s seed. Members of the Body of Christ are not. That city is to be the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21:1 to 10. The Body of Christ is seated in the upperheavenlies with Christ, far above, waiting to appear with Him in glory and will never reach that heavenly city. Of course if this teaching is Scripturally correct, Israel, and not the Body, is Christ’s Bride.
If this teaching is fantastic, unscriptural, speculation, the corrective is not the ridicule and condemnation; but II Timothy 2:15. It is no more ridiculous than is the inconsistency of the majority of other accepted premillenarians, who, in one message, tell about the noble and spiritual saints, servants of the Lord in generations past, who were Scriptural premillenarians, and in the next message prove that the Lord is soon to appear because of the activities of Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini and even Roosevelt, with his new deal. If these dictators had to be, before the Lord could come, the noble saints of other ages were not Scriptural; they were deceived. “Political “sign” teachers and “date-fixers” have done much harm to the “premillennial” teaching. There should be no doubt in the mind of any intelligent, spiritual, careful student of the Scriptures, that a radical change took place with God’s judgment upon Israel pronounced in Acts 28:25 to 28. There are high and glorious truths in connection with the Body of Christ revealed in Paul’s Epistles, written after that pronouncement. In his prison epistles we find truth concerning the unsearchable riches of Christ, the dispensation of the mystery, the heavenly calling of believers identified with the glorified Christ, the seven-fold unity of the Spirit, the believer’s conflict, etc., not found prior to that time.
But the question is, were the saints of the “Acts” period waiting for a day of redemption different from that day for which the saints of the “Post-Acts” period waited? Romans 8:23 and Ephesians 4:30.
The word, “coming” in I Corinthians 1:8 is still another Greek word (apokalupsis)- disclosure or revelation. So, according to the teachers of the “new premillennialism”, the Corinthian saints were waiting for the “apokalupsis”, the “erkomai” (I Corinthians 11:26), the “parousia”. They claim that the Epistle of John was written before the close of the “Acts” period, and therefore the believers addressed were waiting for the same coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The saints of the “Post-Acts” period were not looking for any coming of the Lord Jesus. The blessed hope must not be considered a “coming”. The majority of these teachers teach that the hope of the “Acts” saints is the “anastasis” (resurrection from the dead); that the hope of the “Post-Acts” saints is “exanastasis”, used but once in the Bible. Philippians 3:11, “The resurrection out from among the dead.” They hesitate to designate this as a rapture. In fact, most of these teachers are reluctant to offer any Scriptural proof as to just how members of the Body of Christ are going to reach glory without death. Some of them are now teaching two raptures; the Body of Christ is to be called on high and then the tribulation and then the last trump of I Thessalonians 4:13 to 18.
THE DAY OF JESUS CHRIST
Perhaps we will find the refutation of the arguments of the preachers of this “new premillennialism” by comparing Philippians 1:6 and 10 and Philippians 2:16 with I Corinthians 1:8; I Corinthians 3:13; I Corinthians 5:5; I Corinthians 4:5; II Corinthians 1:14; I Thessalonians 5:2 and II Thessalonians 2:2 and 3. Were not the saints of Corinth and Thessalonica waiting for the same day as were the saints of Philippi? Paul preached in Corinth after he preached in Philippi. The church at Philippi existed before the church at Corinth. Compare Acts 16 with Acts 18. Was not Paul waiting for the same day of Christ, both before and after Acts 28? Let us read Philippians 1:6; Philippians 1:10; Philippians 2:16.
“Being confident of this very thing, that, He Which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”.
“That ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ”.
“That I may rejoice in the day of Christ”.
These Philippians were to be kept until the day of Christ and were to look to that day for their reward. Is not the day of Christ dependent upon the coming of Christ? The Corinthian saints were to be confirmed unto the end and look to the day of our Lord Jesus Christ for their rewards. I Corinthians 1:7 and 8. They were waiting for the same day, the appearing of Christ to judge the living, as well as the dead. II Corinthians 5:10; II Timothy 4:1.
Now I Corinthians 1:8; I Corinthians 5:5; and II Corinthians 1:14.
“Who shall confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ?”
“The Spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord (Jesus omitted in some manuscripts). “That we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
Now I Timothy 6:14:
“That thou keep this commandment without spot, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul was to be preserved unto His heavenly kingdom, which was to be at His appearing, to judge. II Timothy 4:1 and 18. Who are the living who are to be judged at the “epi-phaino” of the Lord Jesus Christ?Compare II Corinthians 5:10 with Colossians 3:24 and 25.
Acts 2:20 speaks of the notable day of the Lord. Surely this notable day of the Lord has to do with the coming of Christ for Israel. The Greek word translated notable is “epiphanes”, which is the Greek word expressing Christ’s appearing, the blessed hope of the Church which is His Body.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.