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The Church’s Trojan Horse
From the Writings of Marvin J. Rosenthal
Published in Zion’s Fire Magazine in March/April, 1997

In this article, two words will be defined, and their relationship to the timing of the Rapture will be examined. The two words are “coming” and “end.” Both words are crucial, and both are found in a question which the disciples asked of the Lord. They were on the Mount of Olives. The mood was more than tense. Major conflict between the Jewish leadership and Jesus had reached a new high. As a consequence, Jesus informed His disciples that He was leaving. His nation would not see Him again until they were ready to say, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Mt. 23:39). The disciples were dismayed and stunned. “And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Mt. 24:3).

The first word to be defined is the word “coming.” It is the translation of the Greek word parousia, pronounced pa-ROO-zee-a.

The word parousia (coming) occurs twenty-four times in the New Testament. It is used in nine books: Matthew, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, James, 2 Peter, and 1 John; and by five different authors: Matthew, Paul, James, Peter, and John. Additionally, Matthew attributes its use to the disciples (Mt. 24:3) and to the Lord himself (Mt. 24:27, 37).

Three other words are also employed in the New Testament to speak of the return of Christ. The first is the Greek word erchomai, which is normally translated “coming.” It is used, in a prophetic context, by the Lord who taught: “Verily I say unto you, There are some standing here, who shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming [erchomai] in his kingdom” (Mt. 16:28). It is used by John the Baptist this way: “He it is, who coming [erchomai] after me is preferred before me” (Jn. 1:27). This Greek word for coming is very much akin to our English word “coming.”

A second word that enters into the discussion of Christ’s return is the word apokalypsis. This Greek word is usually translated “coming” or “revelation.” Its basic meaning is “to disclose or bring to light.” In the Word of God, there is a disclosure or bringing to light of the Lord Jesus by human authors who wrote under the controlling influence of the Holy Spirit. However, in connection with His coming (apokalypsis), Jesus will reveal Himself, or bring Himself to light. Every eye shall see Him. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “So that ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming [apokalypsis, self-disclosure] of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7). The last book of the Bible is called Revelation [apokalypsis]. The name of the book comes from the word “Revelation” which appears in the first verse. “The Revelation [apokalypsis, self-disclosure] of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1). The apokalypsis or “self-revelation” in view is that associated with His Second Coming.

The third word to be considered is epiphaneia. This word is most often translated “appearing.” Concerning Christ’s epiphaneia (appearing), Lawrence Richards has written in his Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: “As a religious term, it indicates a visible manifestation of a hidden deity, either in person or by some great act through which His presence is revealed. Jesus will come in a starburst of power, burning his image on the retinas of faithless, blinded humanity.” Writing to young Timothy, Paul said, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing [epiphaneia] and his kingdom” (2 Tim. 4:1). And to Titus he wrote, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared [epiphaneia] to all men” (Ti. 2:11).

The word parousia (coming) is much broader in significance than these other Greek words employed in Second Coming texts. And it is important that that significance be clearly understood. Parousia (coming) is derived from two Greek words, para meaning “with” and ousia meaning “being.” The word parousia, combining the ideas of “with” and “being,” originally conveyed the idea of “presence.” Only later did it add to its meaning the idea of a visitation. Parousia, then, denotes two things: “an arrival” and a consequent “presence with.” The Greek scholar W. E. Vine illustrated that fact by referring to a papyrus letter in which a lady speaks of the necessity of her parousia in a place in order to attend to matters relating to her property (an “arrival” and continued “presence” in order to accomplish certain matters).

On two occasions, the apostle Paul uses the word parousia in the sense of his personal presence. Quoting what others had said about him, he wrote, “For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence [parousia] is weak, and his speech contemptible” (2 Cor. 10:10). And again Paul wrote, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence [parousia] only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). In this verse, his presence [parousia] is contrasted to his absence.

This same concept of a coming and continuing presence is used of the Antichrist. Paul wrote of the Wicked One: “Whose coming [parousia] is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (2 Th. 2:9). The coming (parousia) of the Antichrist includes his continuing presence to perform his satanic work of false signs and lying wonders.

At Christ’s “coming” (parousia), the Church will be raptured and His presence will be seen in the heavens (that is, the manifestation of His glory - not His bodily form), for the purpose of judging the wicked, culminating in His physical, visible return to the earth at the end of Daniel’s seventieth week.

When men today speak of Christ’s first coming, it is not restricted to His birth alone. Rather, it includes the annunciation to Mary, the incarnation, Jesus’ reasoning at the Temple at age twelve, His growth before men and God, His public ministry, His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. All of this is spoken of as His first coming.

In a similar way, His second coming will include the Rapture of the Church, the Day of the Lord judgment, and His physical return in glory to establish His millennial Kingdom. Summing up the significance of the words used to describe Christ’s return, the Expository Dictionary of Bible Words states, “The second coming of Jesus is a rich and complex NT theme. Like Jesus’ first coming, it does not take place as a single act but stretches over a span of time as God’s many purposes are worked out at time’s end.”

From an examination of the verses in which the word parousia occurs, the following observations can be made:

1) In the King James Version of the Bible, the word parousia is translated “coming” twenty-two times, and two times it is translated “presence” (2 Cor. 10:10; Phil. 2:12).

2) Of the twenty-four times parousia is used in the New Testament, eighteen of those times it is used prophetically. Seventeen times it is used in connection with the coming of the Lord Jesus and once of the coming of the Antichrist (2 Th. 2:9).

3) The Rapture of the Church is one of a number of matters directly associated with His coming. Paul wrote these words to the Thessalonians: “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming [parousia] of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (1 Th. 3:13). “Saints” in this verse is an unfortunate and inappropriate translation. “Saints” in this verse does not refer to believers. The Greek word hagios should be translated “holy ones” and is a reference to angelic beings. These angelic beings will accompany Christ at His coming (parousia) (cf. Mt. 25:31; 2 Th. 1:7-8; Rev. 19:14). In no sense, then, can 1 Thessalonians 3:13 be used to support the teaching that the Lord comes for the church at the beginning of the seventieth week and then with the Church at its end, as some contend.

4) The coming of Christ will initiate the Rapture and then be immediately followed by the Day of the Lord judgment. To the Corinthians Paul wrote, “But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming [parousia]” (1 Cor. 15:23). The chronology following Christ’s coming is then presented by the apostle: “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father, when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power” (1 Cor. 15:24). The end to which Paul referred is the Day of the Lord judgment. The Church will be raptured, and then the end of the age will commence with the outpouring of God’s wrath upon an unrepentant world that has spurned His grace.

In the context of a discussion of His coming, the Lord taught, “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming [parousia] of the Son of man be” (Mt. 24:37). And then the Lord described what the days of Noah were like: “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark” (Mt. 24:38). That the days before the flood were wicked is beyond debate (Gen. 6:5-7). But that is not the Lord’s point. What the Lord was teaching is that men will be going about their normal activities (eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage - the most basic things of life) with no sense of impending judgment, with no awareness that deity is about to visit humanity in judgment. According to the Lord, they “knew not until the flood came, and took them all away [they were slain]; so shall also the coming [parousia] of the Son of man be” (Mt. 24:39). As the flood began on the same day as Noah entered the ark, so the Lord taught that the Rapture would occur on the same day as the Day of the Lord begins (Lk. 17:26-27, 30).

At Christ’s coming there will be those inside the ark, as a result of faith in Christ, and those outside the ark, because they have rejected Christ. The Lord illustrated that truth: “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken [in rapture], and the other left [for judgment]. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken [in rapture], and the other left [for judgment]” (Mt. 24:40-41). This coming inside of the seventieth week has always been a text that has troubled pretribulation rapturism.

The coming (parousia) initiates two things: first, the rapture of the righteous; and second, the end - the Day of the Lord judgment of the wicked.

5) No one will know the day or the hour of Christ’s coming (parousia). The Lord taught, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Mt. 24:36). The emphasis is on knowing the day or hour of Christ’s return. That specific detail is unknown.

6) In contrast to the unsaved for whom Christ’s coming will be as a thief in the night, spiritually discerning believers will know the approximate time of His coming (parousia). Hear the words of the Savior: “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it [in context, ”it“ refers to His coming] is near, even at the doors” (Mt. 24:32-33). The Lord’s teaching is unmistakably clear. The fig tree was a time indicator. When its branches became soft and it put forth leaves, the Jewish people knew that summer was near (getting close), but they did not know the exact time. The fig tree was a sign of approximation. Likewise, when the events described in Matthew 24:4-28 occur, the generation then living will know that Christ’s coming (parousia) is near. The Lord’s coming is not imminent - any moment. It is expectant - it could happen in any generation. Like the fig tree, the specific fulfillment of prophesied events will be a sign of approximation. Men of faith will know the general period of Christ’s coming (parousia), but they will not know the hour or the day; therefore, the admonition to watchfulness (Mt. 24:42). This is the parallel to the teaching of both Paul and Peter.

Paul wrote:

“But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day [the Day of the Lord] should overtake you as a thief” (1 Th. 5:4).

And Peter warned:

“Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” (2 Pet. 3:12).

7) There will be a sign to indicate Christ’s coming (parousia). The disciples inquired, “What shall be the sign of thy coming [parousia]?” (Mt. 24:3). That sign (singular, not plural) will be the manifestation of the glory of God in the heavens. Matthew wrote, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Mt. 24:30). The natural light of the universe will be turned off, and the supernatural light (God’s glory) will be turned on. That glory will dispel the darkness associated with the opening of the sixth seal (the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, Mt. 24:29; cf. Rev. 6:12-14).

8) In the Olivet Discourse, the coming (parousia) of Christ is clearly placed after the middle of the seventieth week. That becomes obvious in light of the fact that the coming occurs after the setting up of the image of the Antichrist in the middle of the seventieth week (Mt. 24:15-22; cf. Dan. 9:27) and the attempt by false prophets to get Jews out of the caves to which they have fled following the erection of the image of the Antichrist (Mt. 24:23-26). The Lord described His coming following those events this way: “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming [parousia] of the Son of man be” (Mt. 24:27). For the unsaved world, His coming will be sudden and unexpected (like lightning) - exactly like the flood in the days of Noah. They “knew not until the flood came” (Mt. 24:39).

From these observations, some clear conclusions can be drawn.

In the first place, the Lord’s coming (parousia) is a comprehensive whole. There is only one Second Coming. It includes the Rapture of the Church, the outpouring of God’s wrath during the Day of the Lord, and Christ’s physical return in glory. The meaning of the word “coming” (parousia) is consistent with that fact. It means “a coming and continuing presence.”

The Lord’s coming is consistently portrayed as a singular event. The Bible is repetitively consistent on that fact: “And what shall be the sign of thy coming?” (Mt. 24:3); “so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Mt. 24:27, 37, 39); “afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming” (1 Cor. 15:23); “in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming” (1 Th. 2:19); “at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Th. 3:13); “we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord” (1 Th. 4:15); “and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Th. 5:23); “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Th. 2:1); “whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming (2 Th. 2:8); ”Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord” (Jas. 5:7); “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (Jas. 5:8); “when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:16); “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Pet. 3:4); “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God” (2 Pet. 3:12); “we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1 Jn. 2:28).

In each and every instance, the word coming (parousia) is either modified by the personal pronoun “his” or “thy” or, most frequently, with the definite article “the.” And in every case, His return is in the singular; not comings but coming. There is not even a hint - anywhere - of two separate comings. The often-heard suggestion that Christ will come first for His church and then return to the earth a second time seven years later with His church is a system of theology developed outside of the Scriptures and then superimposed upon them.

There is clear evidence that there is a coming (parousia) of Christ sometime after the middle of the seventieth week and following the Great Tribulation. The Lord taught: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Mt. 24:29-30). For pretribulation rapturism to stand, among other things, two points must be demonstrated: first, that there are two second comings, for irrefutably there is one following the Great Tribulation; and, second, that one of them occurs before the seventieth week begins. Not only does no such biblical evidence exist, it clearly contradicts Scripture.

Since the Rapture is directly related to Christ’s coming (parousia, 1 Th. 3:13; 5:23; 2 Th. 2:1), and the demonstrable coming (parousia) occurs after the middle of the seventieth week and following the Great Tribulation (specifically before the opening of the seventh seal, Mt. 24:27; Rev. 6:12-17), so, too, the Rapture must occur beyond the middle of the seventieth week.

No one can know the day or the hour of Christ’s coming (parousia). That is clearly taught by the Lord himself (Mt. 24:36-37). However, men are to know the general time period of Christ’s coming. That is also taught by the Lord (Mt. 24:32-33). The apostle Paul warned the Thessalonians that the Lord’s coming (parousia) would be as “a thief in the night” (1 Th. 5:2). Then he explained the response of both the saved and the unsaved to the Lord’s coming. Concerning the unsaved he wrote, “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape” (1 Th. 5:3). The picture Paul portrayed is of an unsaved world caught completely off guard and unprepared for Christ’s return. But of the saved he wrote regarding Christ’s coming (parousia): “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1 Th. 5:4-6; see also 2 Pet. 3:12).

No amount of rationalizing can explain away the fact that if the coming of the Lord is imminent and pretribulational, He will, of an absolute necessity, return as “a thief in the night” even for the believers. The Pauline admonition to watchfulness for an event which has no prophesied events to precede it would be the ultimate exercise in futility. If, on the other hand, Christ’s coming and the Rapture occur after the events of Matthew 24:4-28 (immediately prior to the opening of the seventh seal), then the Lord’s words make perfect sense. “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things [the events portrayed in the first six seals], know that it [His coming (parousia)] is near, even at the doors” (Mt. 24:33; cf. Lk. 21:28). That day need not overtake a believer like “a thief in the night” precisely because events of the seventieth week will announce its approach - not the very hour, but the general time period - exactly as the Lord taught.

Finally, in the clearest possible way, if there is only one coming, the doctrine of imminency is destroyed by the question posed by the disciples. They inquired, “What shall be the sign of thy coming [parousia]?” (Mt. 24:3). Signs are miracles or wonders given to authenticate or substantiate important divine truth (Isa. 7:14). In this case, the disciples asked concerning the sign of His coming (parousia). Since the sign must precede the coming, and the Rapture is related to the coming, the Rapture cannot be signless. And imminency, which is said to be the central pillar of pretribulation rapturism, is once more discredited.

There is a second important word to which attention is now drawn. The disciples asked, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Mt. 24:3).

The phrase “the end of the world” (as in the Authorized Version) is particularly misleading. It is better translated “the end of the age.” The Greek word aion is not the world but a period or era during which events take place. Commenting on this subject, W. E. Vine noted that the “end of the age” does not denote a termination but the moving of events toward an appointed climax. And there is still more beyond that climax.

When the disciples asked, “What shall be the sign of thy coming [parousia], and of the end of the world [aion]?” (Mt. 24:3), they realized that Christ’s coming would end one era and commence another (the millennial Kingdom). A biblical synonym for the end or the end of the age is the phrase “the harvest” (Mt. 13:30). This phrase occurs in the Lord’s parable of the wheat and the tares.

“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field; But, while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn” (Mt. 13:24-30).

Later the disciples asked the Lord to interpret the parable, and He did so:

“He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world” (Mt. 13:37-40).

The earthly story part of the parable was quite simple. The wheat and the weeds were to grow together. Only at the harvest were they to be separated. The wheat would go into the barn; the weeds would be burned.

The spiritual truth of the parable is equally clear. Righteous and unrighteous men are to coexist in the world. Then at “the harvest [which] is the end of the age” (Mt. 13:39), separation will occur. The wicked will be cast into hell (Mt. 13:41-42), and “the righteous [shall] shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Mt. 13:43).

The Lord taught, in the clearest possible way, that the final harvest is the separation of the righteous and unrighteous, and that the final harvest occurs at the end of the age. That absolute identification is made: “The harvest is the end of the world” (Mt. 13:39). Speaking of that final harvest, John the Baptist, referring to Christ, said:

“Whose fan [a small shovel for tossing grain against the wind and separating the wheat from the chaff] is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner [the millennial Kingdom]; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire [through the Day of the Lord judgment]” (Mt. 3:12).

For the Rapture to be pretribulational, “the end” (or the harvest which occurs at Christ’s coming) must begin at the beginning of the seventieth week. But the clear, irrefutable fact is “the end of the world [age]” does not begin at the beginning of the seventieth week. The evidence for that fact is substantial and convincing.

First, the events of Matthew 24:4 and following are understood by the overwhelming majority of dispensational, pretribulational interpreters to be describing events within the seventieth week. The Ryrie Study Bible states that view succinctly. Verses 4-14 list characteristics of the first half of Daniel’s seventieth week, while verses 15-28 deal with the second half. In verse 6 (which Ryrie properly places within the seventieth week) the Lord teaches, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” The final harvest, the separation of the righteous and the unrighteous, had not yet occurred within the seventieth week. Again in verse 13 the Lord taught, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Even further within the seventieth week, there is still no final harvest - no separation of the wheat and tares.

Second, in direct response to the inquiry of the disciples concerning “the end of the world,” the Lord taught this truth: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Mt. 24:14). The end had still not yet occurred, although the context is well into the seventieth week. But a new truth is added. The gospel will be preached in all the world before the end will come.

Now a new problem arises for pretribulation rapturism; namely, the Great Commission of the Church:

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Mt. 28:18-20).

The Lord’s promise in the Great Commission included the fact that He would be with them “unto the end of the world” (Mt. 28:20).

In Matthew 24:14, four things are clear: (1) the Lord is speaking to the disciples; (2) the gospel is to be preached to all nations; (3) following the preaching of the gospel in all the world, the end will come; and (4) the end is within the seventieth week. By comparison, in the Great Commission: (1) the Lord is speaking to the same disciples; (2) they are commanded to preach the gospel throughout the world; (3) the Lord would be with them unto the end of the age; and (4) if “the end” in Matthew 24:14 is inside the seventieth week, then “the end of the world” in Matthew 28:20 must also be inside the seventieth week. The suggestion that the “end” or “end of the world [age]” in these passages does not refer to the same “end” ought not to be taken seriously by those who honor God’s Word. Note the following passages:

“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake, but he that endureth to the end shall be saved [literally delivered by the Rapture]” (Mt. 10:22).

“The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world” (Mt. 13:39-40).

“And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?...And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end [of the age] is not yet…But he that shall endure unto the end [of the age], the same shall be saved [again ”delivered“ by rapture]. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end [of the age] come” (Mt. 24:3, 6, 13-14).

“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Mt. 28:20).

“Then cometh the end [of the age], when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power” (1 Cor. 15:24).

Since the Great Commission of the Church is to evangelize the world up to the end of the age, it logically follows that the Church must enter the seventieth week of the Book of Daniel in order to fulfill its holy calling. Only then will she be raptured before the Day of the Lord judgment, because the Church, the bride of Christ, is not appointed unto the Bridegroom’s wrath, which will fall only on an unrepentant world. The Church will be raptured at the seventh seal, immediately following the Great Tribulation and before the outpouring of God’s wrath.

In an important text rarely discussed in prophetic debate, the sequence of these events is clearly outlined. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “So that ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming [parousia] of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm [guarantee] you unto the end [of the age], that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7-8). Three distinct truths are in view: (1) the Corinthian believers are waiting for the Lord’s coming (parousia); (2) He will keep them up to the end (the final harvest when the righteous and unrighteous are separated as wheat and chaff); (3) they will be found blameless and, therefore, escape the Day of the Lord judgment to enter the millennial Kingdom.

In summation, the following salient facts have been presented:

· The word “coming” (parousia) means “a coming and consequent presence.”

· Of the seventeen times the word “coming” is used in connection with the return of Christ, it is used only in the singular and always with the definite article or a personal pronoun (i.e., “the coming,” “thy coming,” or “his coming”).

· Not once does the Bible speak of two comings - not even by a hint or implication.

· It can be demonstrated that Christ’s coming (parousia) occurs after the middle of the seventieth week (Mt. 24:27).

· In no “coming” text can it be demonstrated that the coming occurs pre-seventieth week.

· When the coming (parousia) occurs, it will have among its major purposes the Rapture of the righteous and the Day of the Lord judgment of the wicked (1 Cor. 15:20-24). Thus, it is indefensible to argue that the Day of the Lord begins at the middle of Daniel’s seventieth week or later and that the Church is raptured at least three and one-half years earlier, or before the seventieth week commences.

· The phrase “end of the world” (Mt. 24:3) is more accurately translated end of the age and is speaking of the completion of this era in preparation for entrance into the next (the Millennium). The Day of the Lord will be the transition period from this age to the Kingdom Age.

· The end is clearly identified as the final harvest. Jesus taught, “The harvest is the end of the world” (Mt. 13:39).

· The final harvest is the separating of the wheat and the tares. The wheat are the righteous, who are to be harvested into God’s barn; the tares are the unrighteous, who are to be harvested and burned (Mt. 13:40-43).

· The end is unmistakably identified as occurring inside the seventieth week (Mt. 24:3; cf. vv. 6, 13-14).

· The Great Commission of the Church - the task of world evangelism - is to continue unto the end. The Lord said, “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Mt. 28:20).

Since the Church must continue unto the end, and the end is within the seventieth week, a pretribulation Rapture is impossible. On the other hand, prewrath Rapture of the Church at the seventh seal conforms to the biblical data.

I write not to criticize but to alert. I know that an article that takes issue with pretribulation rapturism is, to say the least, in certain circles very unpopular. I take no pleasure in being attacked or shunned, particularly by those with whom I agree in so many important areas of theology. But I must be true to God’s Word, as I understand it, whatever the personal consequence.

Satan is the father of lies. At the end of the last century, he inserted a falsehood into the Bible-believing Church of America. It entered deceptively, much like a “Trojan horse.” It remains inside the camp, and is now so ingrained in the mind-set of many believers that to even question its biblical basis is to subject oneself to scorn and intimidation.

I refer, of course, to the Trojan horse of pretribulation rapturism.

· Pretribulationism, with its teaching that the Church will be “out of here” before the Antichrist arises, has proffered a false hope of exemption from the Great Tribulation and the pressures exerted by Antichrist. It may sound good, but like a placebo, it will do no good.

The result of the Trojan horse of pretribulation rapturism has been to anesthetize the Church in the twentieth century. She has been robbed of a sense of urgency and spiritual preparedness for conflict ahead. No one who understands the truth of the blessed hope would suggest that encounter with the Antichrist infringes on that hope.

Perhaps, of greatest consequence, is the fact that if the Church enters the seventieth week of Daniel, having been taught that she would not be present when the Antichrist arises, she will be caught off guard and confused. If the Church was misled on this important subject, she will question where else she may have been misled. She will be vulnerable to a spiritual “Pearl Harbor.”

The only true remedy is to get the “Trojan horse” out of the camp as quickly as possible. That task is easier said than done. The giants of pride, blind allegiance, and large ministries stand in the way: “pride” on the part of many Bible teachers who have taught pretribulationism for years and don’t want to acknowledge that, no matter how well intended, they were wrong; “blind allegiance” by some who pound the pulpit in defense of pretribulationism but, if questioned, often can’t defend their position and don’t even understand the issues involved; and “large ministries” which have many supporters upon whom they are dependent and who are pretribulational. If the ministry publicly changed its view, much of the support would cease, and the ministry would be adversely affected.

Some will take issue with what I have written and be offended. But what I have written is true and needs desperately to be said.

The Trojan horse is bleeding profusely. Ever-larger numbers of believers are turning away from pretribulation rapturism. And old, worn-out tourniquets being desperately reapplied by a few of its adherents will not stop the flow.

If it pleases the Lord, perhaps there is still time to push the Trojan horse outside the camp before the Church enters the seventieth week of Daniel to do battle with the Antichrist.


The Church’s Trojan Horse
From the Writings of Marvin J. Rosenthal
Published in Zion’s Fire Magazine in March/April, 1997