We need to be careful that we don’t take a scripture out of context, or add a meaning to it that can’t be verified by other scriptures: “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established” (Matthew 18:16). When we do, we’re trying to make the Bible fit our doctrine. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have an opinion, but we should state it as an opinion if can’t verify our position.
On the other hand, we can make the Bible say anything we want to and provide ourselves with as many scriptures as we may to prove it. So what do we do to stay on course. First, start with a known truth. The truth doesn’t change. Everything else has to build from there. Second, find another known truth. The first and the second truth must fit together. Third, be honest with yourself. If you don’t know how things fit together, say so and ask God to give you understanding. Don’t allow your “logic” to be “written in stone.” Be open to the scriptures to guide you.
Have you ever done a land navigation course? A couple of degrees off and reaching your destination becomes less likely the further you travel. Those couple of degrees may make little difference a hundred meters away, but if you travel ten kilometers you can totally miss your objective.
This example holds true with Bible doctrine. Being off a little may make little difference, but if you’re unwilling to make corrections along the way, you’ll find yourself deceived, probably fanatical, and leading others down the same misguided path. None of us have all the answers, we know we don’t, and are willing to learn as the word of God enlightens us. I hope this blog inspires you to continue you spiritual education and help you make any corrections if need be.
“Now, bretheren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathereing together to Him, we ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).
I’ve heard some strange teaching from this passage which I won’t expound upon, but what I do want to mention is this: I’ve heard good, godly ministers say that the Day of Christ and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ are two different events. Or “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” and “our gathering together” are two separate events. They say that the coming of Jesus is the rapture and the Day of Christ is His coming to set up His millennial reign. For me, there is absolutely no scripural evidence for this, they take what Paul is saying out of context, and the direction they’ve taken to come up with this idea was faulty from the beginning.
Let’s put this passage of scripture in context. We’ll have to cover some scripture to do this, but it’s worth the effort.
“It is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed…Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; 2:1-3).
OK. So now we have some context. Read it out of your Bible for yourself.
We see in chapter one (verses 6-10) Paul’s terminology for Jesus’ return as:
- The Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven.
- His mighty angels will be with Him.
- He will take vengeance on the wicked.
- He will be glorified in His saints and be admired among all those who believe.
- “When He comes”
- “In that Day”
When we get over into the second chapter, Paul continues his thought: “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him.” Paul’s not suddenly changing meanings from one paragraph to another. How confusing that would be! Paul’s continuing with the same event in chapter two when he describes that event as:
- “The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”
- “Our gathering together to Him”
- “The Day of Christ”
- “That Day”
“The Day of Christ” is used synonymously with the “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,” and “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven.”
- “The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” = “The Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven.”
- “Our gathering together to Him” = “He will be glorified in His saints and be admired among all those who believe.”
- “That Day” = “In that Day.”
- “The Day of Christ” = “When He comes.”
In the first chapter, Paul emphasizes Jesus’ coming and the vengeance that comes on wicked man. In the second chapter, Paul emphasizes what the church is to look for before Jesus comes so we won’t be decieved. We’re to look for an apostasy and the anti-christ. Paul describes how to recognize the “man of sin, the son of perdition.” He then reiterates in verse twelve that vegeance will be taken on all “who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Here’s something to know: No where in the Bible does it say that Jesus will take us to Heaven where God the Father is when He returns. We will be “caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17), but we will not be going to Heaven.
I know. Someone will say, “What about John chapter fourteen?” And I will say, “If you put what Jesus is saying in context, you will see He’s refering to coming back from the grave and making a place in Heaven for those who die in Him.” Prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection, the righteous went to Abrahams Bosom when they died (Luke 16:19-31). After Jesus rose from the dead “He ascended on high, He led captivity captive” (Ephesians 4:8) to Heaven. Now we can declare, “We are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6), and to depart from the flesh is to “be with Christ” (Philippians 1:21-23).
Since no one is going to Heaven when Jesus returns, how can He take us to Heaven and then return later for the millinial reign? He’s not. The order of events goes like this:
- The tribulation. The great tribulation (Matthew 24:21) is a time of great pressure and stress upon mankind. What we’ve been sowing as a race, we shall be reaping: famine, pestilence, natural disasters, crime and chaos. Everyone will choose whose side they will trust in for sustenance, peace, and truth: God or man.
- The rapture. At this time, He will come in the “clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him” ( Revelation 1:7; see also Zechariah 12), the dead in Christ shall rise first and in the order that they died, then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
- After the rapture the wrath of God is poured out when God “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Here’s another thought to consider: When “every eye will see Him” why don’t they all get saved? They know Jesus is real and the rapture has taken place? The reason is simple: everyone has decided who they’re going to serve. Those who have taken the mark, number, or name of the Beast are doomed to eternal damnation (Revelation 14:9-12); they can’t be saved. Those that have not taken the mark and aren’t saved can’t be raptured, because it takes faith to be saved and they are now walking by sight.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. The Thessalonians were being greatly persecuted, frightend that Jesus had come and left them behind, and they were confused. Paul was putting them on the right track. If Paul was using the same or similar phrases but with different meanings, the Thessalonians’ confusion would have been worse, not cleared up.
If you’re a pre-tribulation, day of Christ is different from the coming of Jesus kind of person, I know it may take some time and thought to get your mind around this study. Some it will make angry. Going years believing something and then having to be honest with yourself and rethink a doctrine can be difficult; even painful. But the choice is yours. What will you choose?