The Approaching Advent Of Christ

(A critical, post-tribulational examination of the teachings of J.N. Darby)

Alexander Reese*

Note: remaining chapters 13-16 and appendices  to be added


Excursus On The Seventy Weeks Of Daniel
Excursus To Chapter 2 The Resurrection in Ezekiel 37:1-14
Excursus To Chapter IV: Dr. E.W. Bullinger's Scheme Of The Saint's Resurrection


This volume is not intended to add to those crying, "Lo here," "Lo there," at every outbreak of war, of famine, and of pestilence in our distracted world. Nor does it aim at expounding the doctrine of the Second Advent according to its natural content and implications. It is simply an examination of prophetic theories that have gained a large acceptance among Evangelical Anglicans, Fundamentalists in all the Protestant Churches, Plymouth Brethren, Keswick and similar movements, freelance Bible-teachers and evangelists and all whose leanings are toward a realistic program of the End, and a belief, sometimes true, that Providence is with the small battalions and the Wee Frees.

These views, which began to be propagated a little over one hundred years ago in the separatist movements of Edward Irving and J. N. Darby, have spread to the remotest corners of the earth, and enlisted supporters in most of the Reformed Churches in Christendom, including the Mission field. They are held and spread with conviction and tenacity, and occasionally with overbearing confidence. They have had the advantage of being outstanding tenets in all sections of a denomination, which has had the satisfaction of seeing the peaceful penetration of other communions by their theories of the End.[1] So much so that an increasing number of pastors feel called upon to leave the ordered work of the pastorate, to stir up interest in what is called the "imminent" or impending Coming of Christ. Some of these at a few hours notice can fill the largest Churches with audiences anxious to hear of the latest signs of the times, though it is a fundamental presupposition of the school that the Imminent Advent awaits the fulfillment of no signs whatever. Some of this interest is wholesome; more of it would be if all of what is taught were true.

These prophetic theories have often been examined, but usually in tracts and booklets of an adventitious character, which have generally been ignored, or not taken seriously. It has been like bowling to Bradman, or pitching to "Babe" Ruth, with a ping-pong ball, and against the wind. The time seems to have come for a more congruous effort.

The reader’s attention is drawn to one or two features of the work. First, written for people who are largely strangers to the great commentaries, it aims at illuminating the discussion of disputed texts by drawing freely on those works. Writers on the prophetic future sometimes furthered the acceptance of their views by strong denunciations of commentaries, introductions, and "traditional exegesis." People’s minds were thus prepared for accepting peculiar views. I think on the contrary that ministers and educated laymen ought to thank God devoutly for the Golden Age of exegesis that entered with the publication of Winer’s Grammar of the Greek Testament in 1822, and continues in the issue of all kinds of learned helps to our own day. It is an extraordinary gain that commentators have abandoned denominational and party exegesis, and in dry light aim at telling us what the text is saying: not what it ought to say, on "the analogy of truth" and similar presuppositions, but what it says in the new light from all departments of research.

When, therefore, someone has a freak interpretation to commend to us, I have drawn on the great exegetes to give us their view of it, trusting that the average educated reader will see that a natural interpretation, backed by scholars of the highest standing, is preferable to a freak one backed by dogmatism and the requirements of a system.

These selections will indicate my debt to the writers mentioned; but I feel that no acknowledgement will reveal the debt I owe to the writings of Dr. Theodore Zahn. Dr. Stalker once said that Conybeare and Howson’s Life and Epistles of St. Paul was a "gift from God" to the English people. And one reader of it has felt like that about Zahn’s Introduction to The New Testament (E.T., 1909, 3 vols.), of which Dr. Jacobus of Hartford Seminary (U.S.A.), the able scholar to whose initiative and interest we owe this gift in an English dress, said that it is "an unexampled treasury." Of the criticism I am not competent to say anything; but any pastor with a taste for such things might say of one feature of the work, What could be more magnificent than the paraphrases and summaries of book after book of the N.T., beginning with "The Circumstances of the Readers" of the Epistle of James, and "The Personality of James," continuing through the earlier Epistles of Paul, reaching "The Contents, Plan, and Purpose of Matthew’s Gospel" (a wonderful chapter), and concluding with eighty pages on the Apocalypse that are worth their weight in gold, for the appreciation and understanding of that difficult book.

This feature of Dr. Zahn’s work evoked praise from Dr. E. Nestle as an aid to the textual criticism of the N.T. It merits the attention of very many pastors who have had their faith undermined by the too hasty acceptance of a criticism that makes large part of the N.T. writings the work of "anonymous or fictitious authors" (Ramsay), and this without their even knowing the great strength of the case for the N.T. of tradition. It was Dr. P. T. Forsyth who wrote a generation ago, that "certain nimble popular journals live on the delusion" that all the ability and knowledge are on the critical side. "They have not so much as heard whether there be alongside of brilliants like Wernle or Schmiedel, giants like Kahler or Zahn. It would not be too much to say that the latter two are among the most powerful minds of the world in the region—one of theology, and one of scholarship. Yet in this country, and certainly to our preachers, they are almost unknown" (Person and Place of Jesus Christ: preface).

I should add that in learned quotations I have often given the English for the Greek and Hebrew in Scripture quotations. Sometimes I have translated Latin quotations. It should be said also that, unless otherwise stated, italics are by the present writer, though there may be a slip or two here, owing to the circumstances in which the quotations have been checked. It may be remarked that Meyer used italics a great deal; so did A. T. Robertson, though in his case it was a typographical device.

If any reader thinks that I have dealt with the subject in too great detail, I may as well confess that my own view is decidedly the same. It would be fortunate if Christians could reach agreement on a few leading aspects of the Second Coming, instead of stirring up disunity by prophetic speculation on many others that call for patience and tolerance. Nevertheless, I must decline to make any change in the form of presentation. The only possible hope of reaching a decision in the debate is by paying Darbyists [see ADDITIONAL NOTE at end of Preface] the compliment of answering with thoroughness all their principal arguments. Their long reign has been due to the fact that no one has ever attempted this before.

For another feature of my book I feel almost like apologizing to any scholarly reader who picks up this volume. Provost Salmon said once that "it is always irksome to be offered proof of something that it has never occurred to you to doubt." I have to confess that all through I have been conscious of that accusing statement: I frequently labor to prove things—like the promise of immortality in Daniel 12:2, and Isaiah 26:19, that few or no cultivated readers ever doubted. My only plea is an anticipation that for a handful of readers who never doubted such things, my book will have hundreds who do this because of a whole system of interpretation that they have accepted and that has never been properly examined. Here again I have had to decline to make any alteration in my approach to the subject, though I realize that some few readers may have cause of complaint.

I have drawn freely on modern revisions of the N.T., from Darby to Dr. G. W. Wade. This is done simply because they frequently light up texts that have been misunderstood, often from their very familiarity. Friends have warned me that this feature will not go down with some of my readers; they are prejudiced against Dr. Moffatt, because of his critical position on the N.T. He is called a "Modernist" and so on. Dr. Moffatt, I judge, would prefer to be called a "Liberal," which is usually applied to one who, like him, accepts the critical view of the Bible, together with the central truths of the Incarnation and Resurrection of our Lord. I think it sufficient to say that I am not a Modernist, and critics should limit themselves to seizing on any rationalism that I may introduce from any source whatever. My belief is that a student who has not learned the value of Dr. Moffatt’s translation for unraveling the difficulties of an epistle like 2 Corinthians, or Galatians, or Hebrews, is shutting his eyes to the light, and losing much.

I have refrained from giving a bibliography; a long list of learned works is apt to convey the impression that the author is a scholar or a theologian; as I am neither I have omitted it.

A few works will be found mentioned under a column of abbreviations; this was drawn up only to permit the use of shortened titles in the text.

On a matter that may provoke criticism—the controversial spirit of the book—I may refer the reader to the paragraph from Dr. Stalker, a revered teacher of the whole Church, on the title-sheet of this volume. I may say also that I agree with Dr. H. L. Goudge in his excellent British-Israel Theory, that a writer is not always under obligation to suppress his amusement at his opponent’s arguments. And the author of 1 Corinthians 13 did not feel that he was called upon to suppress all his irony and indignation when dealing with grave matters in 2 Corinthians and Galatians.

In the present volume one with no such position as those of the writers just mentioned, is seeking to save large tracts of the N.T. from extremely harmful principles of interpretation, very widely held, and increasingly held. There is a medium, surely, between the crudities of controversy in Milton’s time, and a meekness that, up till now, has only given the impression of a case so weak that it cannot command vigor, and can safely be ignored.

Hazlitt is reported to have indicated "animated moderation" as the ideal in controversy. I hope that the controversial method in the present volume is not far removed from that.

Perhaps I may add, to explain references in the text, that a second volume, all of which (except a few pages) was written in the first months of the World War, is about ready. It aims at examining thoroughly the pre-trib interpretation of Mark 13 and Matthew 24-25, and deals with the prophetic and dispensational theories of Sir R. Anderson, E. W. Bullinger, J. N. Darby, A. C. Gaebelein, W. Kelly, D. M. Panton, and C. I. Scofield.

It remains to express my deep obligations to three or four friends whose help has lightened greatly the work of preparing this volume for the publisher. The late Miss Maude Herriott, M.A., formerly of the Department of Biology at Canterbury University College, Christchurch, New Zealand, rendered extremely valuable help of every kind when the MS. was first prepared in 1914. Only after this preface was drafted did the news come that this gifted and cultured woman, so fully representative of all that is best in Brethren saintliness, had passed to her rest in the Lord.

Criticisms by the Rev. G. H. Jupp, a life-long friend, and editor of "The Outlook," the official organ of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, were serviceable in ridding the 1914 MS. of many defects.

The Rev. Harold H. Cook, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, did cheerfully a lot of work that would have been a burden to the writer. He also made a special trip to England and North America to arrange publication, correct the proof-sheets, and prepare the indexes.

My thanks are due also to my friend Mr. K. Howell Fountain of Christchurch, New Zealand, without whose counsel, energy, and enthusiasm the volume would never have got into print. He has maintained interest in the venture for over twenty years.

I cannot thank these four friends sufficiently for all the time and attention that they have bestowed on my work.

It should be added that, whilst the counsel and criticism of these friends have improved the book, they are not to be held responsible for defects that remain. Nor is it to be understood that they endorse all the views put forward, or presupposed in the writing of it.

On a particular point in Appendix I, I am indebted for suggestions to Mr. Andrew R. Kirk, of Christchurch, New Zealand, and to my brother, Mr. Daniel Reese, of the same city.


American Presbyterian Mission,
Itabuna, Estado da Bahia, Brazil.
19th March 1937


Throughout the book I have used the term "Darbyist" and Mr. W. B. Neatby’s term, "Brethrenism." Without some such terms one can make no progress, unless one used intolerable circumlocutions. I may say that, although the term appeared in print some years ago, it was coined by me in 1914 so as to avoid "Darbyite," which had offensive associations. I hope this will be sufficient to persuade Brethren that the new term is not used churlishly. People are not offended at being called Calvinists or Arminians, and people, in or out of the Churches, who accept J. N. Darby’s ideas on the Second Advent, should not take it amiss if they are called "Darbyists". This word, I may explain, is the anglicized form of the Portuguese "Darbystas."


[1] This is furthered by the worldwide circulation of The Scofield Reference Edition of the Bible (over a million copies). There is much sound divinity, admirably collated, in it; but it is a pity that an alternative edition is not available with the text of The 1911 Bible, which was about the best of all attempts made to correct the Family Bible of the English‑speaking world. It was done by a company of American scholars and Dr. Scofield acted as secretary. It is a pity also that highly‑debatable theories of the End were set down alongside the sacred text as if they were assured results of modern knowledge. More use might also have been made of the magnificent expository material in the works of great scholars like J. A. Alexander, Delitzsch, Skinner, and Sir G. A. Smith.


Until the second quarter of the nineteenth century general agreement existed among pre-millennial advocates of our Lord’s Coming concerning the main outlines of the prophetic future: amidst differences of opinion on the interpretation of the Apocalypse and other portions of Scripture, the following scheme stood out as fairly representative of the school:

Such is a fair statement of the fundamentals of Premillennialism as it has obtained since the close of the Apostolic Age. There have been differences of opinion on details and subsidiary points, but the main outline is as I have given it.

These views were held in the main by Irenæus, the "grand-pupil" of the Apostle John, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and the primitive Christians generally until the rise of the Catholic, political Church in the West, and of allegorical exegesis at Alexandria (Harnack). In later times they were also held and propagated by Mede and Bengel, who did so much to revive the primitive hope of Christ’s Coming. And since the beginning of the last century what a galaxy of preachers, theologians, and expositors have appeared to maintain the ancient faith! In Britain and America the names of Alford, Andrews, David Baron, Birks, Bonar, Ellicott, Erdman, Gordon, Guinness, Kellogg, Moorehead, Müller, Maitland, B. W. Newton, Ryle, Saphir, Stifler, Tregelles, Trench, and West pass before us; whilst in Germany and the Continent generally, we meet with an imposing list of exegetes and theologians such as Auberlen, Bleek, Christlieb, Delitzsch, De Wette, Düsterdieck, Ebrard, Ewald, Godet, Hofmann, Lange, Luthardt, Orelli, Rothe, Stier, Van Oosterzee, Volck, and Zahn, who assented to, and expounded, the pre-millennial doctrine set forth above.[1]

The fact that so many eminent men, after independent study of the Scriptures, reached similar conclusions regarding the subject of Christ’s Coming and Kingdom, creates a strong presumption—on pre-millennial presuppositions—that such views are scriptural, and that nothing plainly taught in Scripture, and essential to the Church’s hope, was overlooked. About 1830, however, a new school arose within the fold of Premillennialism that sought to overthrow what, since the Apostolic Age, have been considered by all premillennialists as established results, and to institute in their place a series of doctrines that had never been heard of before. The school I refer to is that of "The Brethren" or "Plymouth Brethren," founded by J. N. Darby.

It will be convenient to give a summary of the new doctrines, with extracts from the writings of the four pioneer writers who filled Evangelical Christendom with their teaching. I refer to Darby’s Lectures on the Second Coming and Notes on the Apocalypse, Kelly’s Lectures on the Second Coming and Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, Christ’s Coming Again, and Lectures on the Book of Revelation, Trotter’s Plain Papers on Prophetic Subjects, and C. H. M.’s (Charles Henry Mackintosh) Papers on the Lord’s Coming.

In America the new teachings were spread abroad through W. E. Blackstone’s Jesus Is Coming, and numerous writings of F. W. Grant, J. M. Gray, A. C. Gaebelein, F. C. Ottman and C. I  Scofield, but all these followed the lead of the British (or Irish) pioneers. Scofield’s Reference Bible represents a lifelong study of the Scriptures, and is hailed in all the world by Brethren as setting forth their views on the interpretation of Scripture, especially of prophecy and "dispensational truth." And naturally: Scofield was for a generation an assiduous and admiring student of Darby’s writings. In A. C. Gaebelein’s many writings the influence and spirit of William Kelly are everywhere evident. These things are not said churlishly, but only to explain our confining the quotations, at this juncture, to primary authorities.

(a) The Second Coming of Christ is to take place in two distinct stages; the first, which concerns the Church alone, occurs at the beginning of, or prior to, the last or apocalyptic Week of Daniel (See note at the end of this chapter); the second, which concerns Israel and the world, takes place at the close of that Week. Between Christ’s Coming in relation to the Church, and His Coming in relation to the world, there thus intervenes a period of at least seven years—the period of the apocalyptic Week, during which Antichrist is manifested. At the first stage of the Advent all the dead in Christ, together with the righteous dead of the O.T., will be raised in the image and glory of Christ; these, together with those Christians who live to see the Lord’s Coming, will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. This is the Coming of the Lord, and is the true hope of the Church. At the second stage, seven or more years later, Antichrist will be destroyed, Israel converted and renewed, and the millennial Kingdom set up. This is the Day, Appearing, or Revelation of Christ, and is entirely distinct from the Coming, for it concerns the world and Israel, whilst the Coming concerns the Church alone. The second stage of the Advent has this, and this only, that concerns the Church, that it will be the time for the judgment and rewarding of the heavenly saints for their service on earth. Some, however, refer the rewarding to the time of the Coming, or Rapture, as the first stage is generally called.

C.H.M. says (Charles Henry Mackintosh):

Having, as we trust fully established the fact of the Lord’s coming, we have now to place before the reader the double bearing of that fact—its bearing upon the Lord’s people, and its bearing upon the world. The former is presented in the New Testament, as the coming of Christ to receive His people to Himself; the latter is spoken of as "The Day of the Lord" —a term of frequent use also in Old Testament Scriptures.

These things are never confounded in Scripture, as we shall see when we come to look at the various passages. Christians do confound them and hence it is that we often find "that blessed hope" overcast with heavy clouds, and associated in the mind with circumstances of terror, wrath, and judgment, which have nothing whatever to do with the coming of Christ for His people, but are intimately bound up with "The Day of the Lord" (Papers on the Lord’s Coming, p. 23).

Again, the same writer says:

The great object of the enemy is to drag down the Church of God to an earthly level—to set Christians entirely astray as to their divinely appointed hope—to lead them to confound things which God has made to differ, to occupy them with earthly things—to cause them to so mix up the coming of Christ for His people with His appearing in judgment upon the world, that they may not be able to cultivate those bridal affections and heavenly aspirations which become them as members of the body of Christ (Papers on the Lord’s Coming, pp. 31-32).


Wherever we turn, in whatever way we look at the subject, we are more and more confirmed in the truth of the clear distinction between our Lord’s coming, or "state of presence," and His "appearing" or "day." The former is ever held up before the heart as the bright and blessed hope of the believer, which may be realized at any moment. The latter is pressed upon the conscience in deep solemnity, as bearing upon the entire practical career of those who are set in this world to work and witness for an absent Lord. Scripture never confounds these things, however much we may do it (Papers on the Lord’s Coming, p. 45),

Referring to the Church’s hope and the Day of the Lord, William Trotter says:

She looks for Him, however, in a previous stage of His return. She looks for Him not as the Son of Man who comes to execute judgment on the ungodly, but as the Son of God, the Head and Bridegroom of His Church, who comes to receive to nuptial joys and heavenly glory, the Church which has known and confessed Him, in whatever weakness during His rejection by a proud and unbelieving world. She knows that when He comes in judgment she shall be the companion of His triumphs, and the sharer in His glories (Plain Papers on Prophetic Scriptures, p. 22).


The coming of Jesus and our gathering together to Him in the air, is the Church’s portion: the day comes upon the world. He (the Apostle) beseeches them by the one not to be distracted about the other. The day cannot burst with its terrors on the world till the saints have been gathered to the Lord Jesus in the air. Then he further shows that "the day" cannot come till there come a falling away first (literally, the apostasy), and that man of sin be revealed—that wicked whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. It is on the man of sin that the judgments of the day of Christ first fall. It is by the epiphany of His coming, or presence, that the man of sin is destroyed. Clearly, then "the day" cannot come till the man of sin has come. But the apostle does not say that CHRIST cannot come till then. He distinguishes between "the coming (parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ" and "the brightness (epiphaneia) of his coming (parousia)." It is His parousia that gathers the saints in the air. It is the epiphaneia of His parousia that destroys the man of sin. The day commences with the epiphaneia of Christ’s coming—that is, with His appearing to the world. The day comes not till the man of sin has come. But we have no warrant to say this of the parousia of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him. That may be any day, any hour. Nothing that has been considered presents any obstacle to that (Plain Papers on Prophetic Scriptures , p. 288).

Here we have the quintessence of the new eschatology, the new exegesis, and the new reasoning: a single phrase—"the manifestation of His coming" (2 Thess. 2:8), is interpreted as meaning that a secret coming (parousia) takes place at the beginning of the Seventieth Week of Daniel (or perhaps even long before it), and another public parousia or epiphany at the Day of Christ, when the millennium is established. Not all is said; but what is not said is in the background, with the whole school approving. Soon all will be said.

Let us have another extract from the same primary source of the new teaching:

Certain events are indeed predicted as inevitably to occur before "the day of Christ" arrives; but Scripture was seen most clearly to distinguish between the coming of Christ for His saints, and the day of Christ which brings judgment on the world. All that must occur prior to the day may transpire between the descent into the air and the return of Christ with all His saints to execute judgment on the earth: and this latter event it is that brings "the day of Christ" (Plain Papers on Prophetic Scriptures, p. 527, italics his).

The reader is asked to note the significance of this explanation of the phrase "Day of Christ," for it represented the view of the whole school till about the end of the century.[2] It was Messiah’s glorious Day, when He comes to set up His kingly rule, after routing His foes. Perfect clarity here will help us to avoid misunderstanding all through our inquiry; so I give an extract on this point from C.H.M., and then a brief one from Darby. The former writes:

We are plainly and expressly told the "day is at hand" (Rom. 13:12). What "day"? The day of the Lord, most surely, which is always the term used in connection with our individual responsibility in walk and service. This, we may remark in passing, is a point of much interest and practical value. If the reader will take the trouble to examine the various passages in which "the day" is spoken of, he will find that they have reference, more or less to the question of work, service or responsibility. For instance, "That ye may be blameless (not at the coming, but) in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 1:8). Again, "Every man’s work shall be made manifest, for the day shall declare it" (1 Cor. 3:13). "Without offence till the day of Christ" (Phil. 1:10). "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day" (2Tim. 4:8). From all these passages and many more which might be adduced, we learn that "the day of the Lord" will be the grand time for reckoning with the workers; for the appraisal of service; for the settling of all questions of personal responsibility; for the distribution of rewards—the "ten cities" and the "five cities" (Papers on the Lord’s Coming, pp. 44-45; italics and brackets his).

On "Christ’s day" in Philippians 2:16, Darby says in the same vein: "The apostle thus unites his work and the reward in the day of Christ with the blessing of the assembly" (Synopsis of the Books of the Bible). So Kelly, Revelation, p. 236.

The pith of which is that Christ’s Coming or Parousia brings the Rapture, and Christ’s Day the judgment, the reward, and the Kingdom, several years later.

(b) The Coming of Christ " for the Church," the resurrection of the sleeping saints, and the translation of the living, together with them, to meet the descending Lord, will take place secretly: none of the unconverted will witness them. Not so, however, the Day of Christ, seven or more years later; for the Lord will then come forth in visible glory, and every eye shall see Him. Referring to the Ascension in Acts 1:10-11, C. H. M. says: —

And here we may ask—though it be rather anticipating what may come before us in a future paper—Who saw the blessed Lord as He went up? Did the world? Nay; not one unconverted person ever laid his eyes upon our precious Lord from the moment that He was laid in the tomb. The last sight the world got of Jesus was as He hung on the cross, a spectacle to angels, men, and devils. The next sight they will get He shall come forth to execute judgment, and tread, in terrible vengeance, the winepress of the wrath of Almighty God...

Is it possible for testimony to be more distinct or satisfactory? Could proof be more clear or conclusive? How can any counter-argument stand for a moment, or any objection be raised? Either those two men in white apparel were false witnesses, or our Jesus shall come again in the exact manner in which He went away. There is no middle ground between these two conclusions. We read in Scripture that, "in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established;" and therefore in the mouth of two heavenly messengers—two heralds from the region of light and truth, we have the word established that our Lord Jesus Christ shall come again in actual bodily form, to be seen by His own first of all, apart from all others, in the holy intimacy and profound retirement which characterized His departure from this world. All this, blessed be God, is wrapped up in the two little words "as" and "so" (Papers on the Lord’s Coming, pp. 17-18).

In expounding 2 Thessalonians 4:16, (William) Kelly, the acknowledged theologian of the movement, writes thus in his Second Coming:

It is mere and ignorant unbelief to press the fact that the Lord so shouts and then to conclude that all the world must hear Him at that epoch. It is contrary to every analogy, that the world will be witnesses of the Lord’s coming to take away the believers. It is easy to conceive that the Lord could conceal it if He pleased. Of course the world may be alarmed and astonished for a while by the fact of the disappearance of so many. That there will be a great effect produced in the world by it I am not in the least disposed to deny; but I believe that the simple and natural interpretation of the terms employed in this Scripture (1 Thess. 4) supposes a special connection between the Lord and those for whom He comes, and that the choice of the expressions limits His action in sight and sound too, as well as in effects of deeper moment, to those whom it all concerns. No more at present would I deduce or assert (pp. 171-172).

On the same passage Darby writes in his Second Coming:

The only persons who hear it are "the dead in Christ," Christ being represented as in this way gathering together His own troops...At the proper time the Lord comes—it is not said appears—and calls us up to be for ever with the Lord, to take our place associated with Christ (pp. 44-5).

(c) Christ, having come secretly to the air and received His waiting or sleeping people to Himself, returns with them to heaven, and there awaits the Day or Revelation. They remain in heaven for an undetermined period, but it is almost universally recognized to be at least seven years, the period of the last of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks. When the Day of the Lord arrives Christ will appear in glory from heaven, accompanied by the previously-raptured saints. Every eye shall see them. This is called Christ’s Coming with His saints, as distinguished from the earlier, secret Coming for his saints. The distinction is insisted upon as most vital.

(d)The realization of the Coming of Christ for His saints is quite independent of the fulfillment of all or any signs and predicted events; it awaits no progress in the evangelization of the world on the one hand; no spread of apostasy in the professing Church on the other. It is independent of the return of the Jews to their own land, of the emergence of the Concert of the Ten Kings, and of the rise and reign of the last Antichrist—for all these events take place after the Secret Rapture, which is conditioned by nothing except the conversion of the last member of Christ’s mystical Body.

When, therefore, we read in the Gospels or Epistles that certain events have to be fulfilled before the Return of Christ, we are to understand at once that it is the second stage—the Day, or Revelation, or Appearing of Christ, and not the secret Coming that is so conditioned. With his usual lucidity Kelly says in his Second Coming:—

The Lord keeps His coming to receive His saints as a distinct hope of the heart, apart from earthly events. When they are, at His coming, translated to heaven, then the earthly tide of events begins to flow. Hence, a further stage of Christ’s coming is called "the appearing," the "revelation of Christ," and the other terms which imply manifestation among the rest, "the day of the Lord" (p. 183).


I have no hesitation in affirming from these inspired statements that we have come to the second act, so to speak in which the Lord manifests His presence. He appears from heaven, and the saints, already risen and changed, already taken up to be with Him above, come along with Him from heaven. It is between His coming for the saints and His coming with them from heaven, that the earthly events transpire, with various signs and tokens never of His coming to receive the saints, but of His coming to judge the world. In short there are no defined periods or visible harbingers to intimate that He is coming to receive us, but there are manifold and manifest signs before He comes with the saints in the execution of His judgment upon the world (p. 184).

(e)During the interval of seven years or more that will elapse between the Coming and the Day of Christ, God will resume His purposes with the Jews. Whilst many will return in unbelief to Palestine, and yield to the seduction of Antichrist, a small Remnant will remain faithful to the true God. Their relation to Christianity will be unique; they may have some knowledge of Christ’s person,[3] but little or none of His saving work; they may recognize Jesus as Messiah, yet because of the removal of the Holy Spirit from the earth at the Rapture of the Church, they will be unable to appropriate the benefits of His redemption. Hence they will have no real knowledge of salvation until Christ comes in His glory, when they will repent and be saved. In a word, their state until then might be described as semi-Christian.

The spiritual experience of this Remnant is believed by pre-tribs to be mirrored to us in scores of the Psalms; even the Imprecatory Psalms, with their cries for vengeance on the godly, are applied to the future Jewish Remnant; so are several of the Beatitudes of our Lord.

During the second half of Daniel’s apocalyptic Week this Remnant of Jews will take up the Great Missionary Commission of Matthew 28, and go far and wide preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. Extraordinary power and success will accompany their labors, for an immense number possibly the vast majority—of the inhabitants of the world will be brought to God through their labors, prior to the Day of the Lord. According to many teachers—including Darby, Anderson, and Gaebelein—this will be the true intent and fulfillment of our Lord’s Missionary Commission in Matthew 28, but this is not urged by all. Many other portions of our Lord’s discourses are also referred to this Jewish Remnant of the Last Days, instead of to members of the Christian Church: the Lord’s Prayer, most of the Sermon on The Mount, and the prophecy of the End in Matthew 24-25, are so applied.

For a convenient exposition of pre-trib teaching on the Jewish Remnant the reader is referred to the two chapters, "The Spared Remnant" and "The Martyred Remnant," in Trotter’s work (Plain Papers on Prophetic Subjects), and to Gaebelein’s volume, Hath God Cast Away His People?.

Darby’s Synopsis contains scattered references to this subject, which is handled systematically in his Collected Writings, and in the two works just mentioned. Anderson’s view of Matthew 28:18-20 is found in an appendix to his Buddha of Christendom and The Bible or The Church?Scofieldtreated of the subject in his Bible Correspondence Course;there the position is taken up that the sealed of Israel are "144,000 Pauls" sent into all the world to evangelize the nations after the removal of the Holy Spirit to heaven,[4] and during the 1,260 days of Antichrist’s triumph: a big order, yet they succeed in converting "the overwhelming majority" of earth’s inhabitants to God. (Sect. 2, pp. 112-113).

(f) From the fact that the Church will be removed to heaven prior to the rise of Antichrist it follows that no member of the Christian Church will suffer in the Great Tribulation, instigated by him (Matthew 24:21; Rev. 7:14; etc.). No single point in the new scheme is more earnestly contended for than this one, and every year sees new tracts issuing from the Press in support of it. Anyone who denies the Church’s immunity from the Antichristian persecution of the Last Days is looked upon as having departed seriously from the faith once delivered to the saints, and is received coldly or not at all by pre-tribs. Thrice welcome is he who has written a tract affirming it.

(g) The resurrection of the saints at the Coming of Christ prior to the Seventieth Week of Daniel will be succeeded by another resurrection of saints at its close. This is the resurrection of the immense number of martyrs who die, ex hypothesi, between the previous resurrection and rapture, and the Day of the Lord. But these martyrs—converted by the preaching of the Remnant—have no connection with the Church of God. It should be said also that the martyred portion of the semi-converted and semi-Christian Jewish Remnant, which enters heaven, [sic] at death, is also raised at this time to share the image of the heavenly. "A martyr’s death is for them the passage to heavenly glory, and to association with Christ when He shall reign over the earth" (Trotter, Plain Papers on Prophetic Subjects, p. 402). It is contended by pre-tribs that this second resurrection is really part of the first resurrection, which, ex hypothesi, takes place some years or decades previously, at the Rapture.

It will be understood, of course, that the kingly rule of Christ and His saints, the resurrection and judgment of the unrighteous dead, and the creation of a new world at the close of His reign, are firmly held in the new school.

I have thus sought fairly and accurately to set forth the pre-trib scheme of the prophetic future. It must not be supposed, however, that all among Brethren accepted the new views. On the contrary, some of their weightiest members repudiated them as innovations. Not only accomplished scholars like S. P. Tregelles and B. W. Newton, but also devout men like George Müller and James Wright of Bristol, Robert Chapman, and Dan Crawford, resisted the new theories of Darby. The following extract from Müller’s writings will show how the group I have mentioned adhered to the early pre-millennial views set forth above. Asked, shortly before his death, whether Christians are to expect our Lord’s Return at any moment, or whether certain events must be fulfilled before He comes again, Müller replied as follows:—

I know that on this subject there is great diversity of judgment, and I do not wish to force on other persons the light I have myself. The subject however, is not new to me; for, having been a careful, diligent student of the Bible for nearly fifty years, my mind has long been settled on this point, and I have not the shadow of a doubt about it. The Scripture declares plainly that the Lord Jesus will not come until the Apostasy shall have taken place, the Man of Sin, the "son of perdition" (or personal Antichrist), shall have been revealed as seen in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5. Many other portions also of the Word of God distinctly teach that certain events are to be fulfilled before the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. This does not, however, alter the fact that the Coming of Christ, and not death, is the great Hope of the Church and, if in a right state of heart, we (as the Thessalonian believers did) shall "serve the living and true God, and wait for His Son from Heaven" (Cited by Frank H. White in The Saint’s Rest and Rapture).

Müller’s teaching, however, despite the enormous prestige of his name, is rejected, even among "Open Brethren"—the movement that originated in his breach with Darby over ecclesiastical contamination at Bristol and Plymouth. On Missions and Baptism, Müller’s influence prevailed; on prophecy and prophetic speculation, Darby’s.

It must be kept clearly in view, moreover, that I have described only the original, parent scheme, as formulated by Darby and his associates. This scheme is still in the ascendant today. Adaptations and developments of Darby’s original scheme by J. A. Seiss, G. H. Pember, E.W. Bullinger, and Sir Robert Anderson, will be duly noticed in the sequel. Suffice it to say here that Seiss and Pember, followed by Hudson Taylor, D. M. Panton, and others, taught that only really faithful Christians will be raptured prior to the Great Tribulation: all others will be left behind to be purified in that trial. Bullinger, among other peculiarities, excluded the Pentecostal Church from the mystical Body of Christ, and limited the Lord’s action at the first stage of the Advent to the Body alone: only members of the Body will be raised and raptured; the holy dead of ancient times, and all Christians prior to Paul, will not be raised until the Day of the Lord. Bullinger, moreover, found more than one rapture in the N.T. Anderson does not accept the distinction between the Coming, Appearing, Revelation, and Day of Christ, but teaches a doctrine of a series of comings or appearings at the End; this has found little acceptance. He also disclaims the idea of secrecy at the Rapture; so also R. A. Torrey and a growing number of writers.

For these aberrations from Darby’s scheme the reader is referred to Hudson Taylor’s Union and Communion, Seiss’ Apocalypse, Panton’s Rapture, Anderson’s Coming Prince, Forgotten Truths, and Unfulfilled Prophecy (2nd ed.), and Bullinger’s Ten Sermons on The Second Advent, The Apocalypse and The Mystery. Moreover, changes are still going on. In Touching the Coming, Messrs. Hogg and Vine, two Brethren expositors of note today, repudiate the pioneers’ distinctions between the Coming and the Appearing, Revelation and Day of Christ, which gave early Brethren songs in the night, and which, C. H. M. told us above with such certitude, it was a design of Satan to confound and mix up, and they find exegetical salvation in adopting everywhere the translation presence for the Greek word Parousia; so that the period or age, ex hypothesi, between the Rapture and the Appearing, which some think may be only three and a half years, others seven, others about seventy, but which Anderson thinks may possibly be a thousand years, gives the true meaning of the Apostolic references to the Coming of our Lord. He is then present. (Chart & app., 152-155.)

And now in the year of grace, 1932, which marks the centenary of the first Brethren assembly in England, C.F. Hogg, one of the authors of the volume just referred to, proposes a further retreat from dispensational orthodoxy, with no diminution of confidence and certainty. Writing officially, I take it, in the Brethren publication, "The Witness," for June, 1932, he thinks that confusion is only avoided, and adherence to truth promoted, by accepting his suggestion that the Rapture is not really the Lord’s Coming, but "our going to be with Him" —the levitation of the scattered saints through space to the Lord’s presence: "The second Advent, or Coming, of the Lord is His coming to the earth in power and great glory for the overthrow of His enemies and the establishing of His Kingdom" (p. 135). And this, he tells us elsewhere,[5] is "the Blessed Hope" of the Church. The levitation of the saints to Christ secures for them the blessed immunity from the Great Tribulation; but the Blessed Hope of Christ’s Second Coming belongs to the Day of the Lord, after the time of tribulation.

It was as necessary as it was desirable to exhibit the new theories at a single view, because misrepresentations and misconceptions of them abound, and some there are who may read this volume who are little acquainted with Darby and his school of prophetic interpretation. Experience shows, moreover, that some very intelligent people, although initiated into the new methods of exegesis, have never grasped the new plan in all its bearings—such are its astonishing intricacies. As an example, I mention that even well-taught ministers, who maintained the new views, have applied Matthew 24:40-41 and Luke 17:34-35 ("the one shall be taken and the other left"), to the Rapture of 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Not so leaders like Darby, Kelly and Gaebelein, who, seeing the inconvenient proximity of the Glorious Appearing at Matthew 24: and Luke 17:30, did not admit a rapture in the context; and naturally.

The question that now concerns us is whether the pre-trib theories are true and scriptural, and thus entitled to supplant the former scheme outlined.

It matters not that they are new and novel, and have never been heard of in the whole history of the Christian Church since the Apostolic Age. What men call heresy sometimes proves to be the truth of God. It matters not that the great pre-millennial scholars and theologians—Alford, Bengel, Delitzsch, Zahn, and others—found no trace in the N.T. of the teachings raised by Darby, for they may be all wrong, and he alone right. Reluctant as some may be to admit it, it is quite possible that the very men who fought and won the battle of Premillennialism in the modern Church, may all have been—to borrow a phrase of William Kelly—"antagonists of the truth," inasmuch as they missed the distinction between the Coming of Christ, and the Revelation seven or more years later; and because they made the Day of Christ the day for the realization of the Church’s hope.

Let us therefore be candid and open-minded for fear lest, in resisting the new theories, we resist the Spirit of God Himself.

But there is another side to this: Darby and his followers may be wrong, and the hundred-and-one famous advocates of the older premillennial school right; in which case the "brayings of ignorance" (Kelly), the "hotch-potch system of exegesis" (Anderson), and other terms applied by some advocates of the new, to those of the old, school, will prove rather inept, for, if the new theories are not true and scriptural, then we must class them with the "noble errors" —to use a phrase of Gladstone’s—that devout men have sometimes sincerely propagated.

To the examination of this issue the rest of the present volume will be devoted.

Excursus On The Seventy Weeks Of Daniel

To its credit, historical criticism is now admitting that archaeology has strikingly vindicated historical statements in the Book of Daniel that were formerly impugned with much confidence. In ICC (International Critical Commentary)on Daniel, Dr. Montgomery makes acknowledgement of the brilliant discoveries of Pinches, Dougherty, and Sidney Smith: "The Bible story is correct as to the rank of kingship given to Belshassar" (See pp. 67, 72, and 109). The lessons of the new discoveries are driven home effectively by Boutflower, In and Around the Book of Daniel (1923), and R.D. Wilson, The Book of Daniel (1917). Cf. C. H. H. Wright, Daniel and His Prophecies (1906).

More encouraging still is Dr. Montgomery’s finding that Daniel 1-6 originated in Babylon in the third century B.C., and not in Palestine or Syria in the second. This warrants the conclusion that the author of chapter 2 was a seer who foresaw the triumph of the Roman Empire as the fourth power in the Great Image, and its division before the End.

Again, "The Expository Times" (Nov., 1929, pp. 61-62) reviewed favorably the work of the eminent American archaeologist, Prof. Dougherty, of Yale, Nabonidus and Belshazzar (Milford), and concluded: "It is of peculiar interest to hear so competent an investigator announce that ‘of all neo-Babylonian records dealing with the situation at the close of the neo-Babylonian empire the fifth chapter of Daniel ranks next to the cuneiform literature in accuracy so far as outstanding events are concerned.’ It begins to look as if Biblical traditions deserve more credence than critics have sometimes been willing to concede to them."

Many will think that a similar remark applies to the prophecies of Daniel. Undoubtedly our Lord and all His Apostles viewed Daniel as a prophet. Ordinary Christians, unaffected by presuppositions against the supernatural, will always think that they were right. In his commentary on Thessalonians in CGT, Dr. G. G. Findlay concludes a valuable paragraph on our Lord’s use of Daniel: "The use made by Jesus Christ of this obscure and suspected Book of Scripture has raised it to high honor in the esteem of the Church" (p. 219).

Worth noting is the position of Dr. Zahn; accepting (Introduction to the N.T., vol. 3, pp. 387-378) the pseudepigraphical character of Daniel, and a late date for its composition, he yet treats its prophecies as genuine products of divine inspiration, and has frequent references to them that are full of unusual insight. His laying aside a plan to expound Daniel’s prophecies at length in his great commentary on Revelation (in the Zahn-Kommentar) isto be deeply regretted.

As the eschatological character of the Seventieth Week is assumed throughout this volume a note should be added on the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (Dan. 9:24-27). Daniel was informed that seventy weeks (= 490 years) would intervene between the promulgation of a decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the fulfillment of the divine purpose concerning the chosen city and the chosen people. This period is divided into three parts, namely, seven weeks (49 years), sixty-two weeks (434 years), and one week (7 years), which elapse in the order named. After thesixty-two weeks (see R.V.)—that is, after sixty-nine, weeks (483 years) in all, for the seven weeks (49 years) are first fulfilled—Messiah the Prince is cut off and has nothing for Himself (see mg.). Thereupon the people of the Coming Prince (the Romans, not the Prince himself) destroy the city and the Sanctuary (i.e., Jerusalem). An undetermined interval follows, which is characterized by war and desolations; it is the present time. Then comes the last or Seventieth Week, which begins with a covenant between the Coming Prince (Antichrist) and the multitude of Daniel’s people, the Jews. In the middle of the week, that is, after three and a half years, the Prince breaks the league or covenant, and causes sacrifice and oblation to cease. Then, as hinted here, and clearly taught elsewhere, the Prince initiates a brief period (3 1/2 years) of persecution and blasphemy. Thereupon wrath is poured out upon the desolator and, the Seventy Weeks being accomplished, Messiah and His saints possess the sovereignty (Dan. 7:22).

To Dr. Tregelles (Daniel, pp.93-127) and Sir Robert Anderson (The Coming Prince) we owe the best interpretation of the prophecy; but this is said with due reserve, and with full recognition of the fact that there are a hundred rival solutions; and that there is difficulty in determining with absolute certainty both the terminus a quo (starting point), and the terminus ad quem (terminal point), of the prophecy. Nevertheless Sir R. Anderson has shown in a volume of conspicuous ability and sanity that, from the edict to rebuild Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:5-8), in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes (14th March, 445 B.C.), to the day of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem (6th April, A.D. 32), was exactly and to the very day sixty-nine weeks (173,880 days or 483 prophetic years of 360 days). See chapter 10; and also his Daniel in the Critic’s Den. Valuable popular expositions on the same lines will be found in W. Kelly’s Notes on Daniel, Dr. Campbell Morgan’s God’s Methods With Man (pp. 47-65), and Dr. Robert Sinker’s notes on Daniel in the Temple Bible series (pp. 192-193).

It is noteworthy that when Anderson wrote his Coming Prince (1881) his date for the Crucifixion (A.D. 32) seemed too late; tradition and scholarship placed it in 29 or 30. Today investigation is slowly coming round to a later date, viz., 33. This is the date adopted in Bishop Headlam’s Life and Teaching of Jesus Christ (p.320), also in a recent learned article by Dr. Fotheringham, an eminent authority ("The Journal of Theological Studies," April, 1934), and by the Pope for the nineteenth centenary of the Crucifixion (April 3rd, 1933). This date, if correct, involves an error of one year in Anderson’s calculation. Dr. Fotheringham, working on seventy astronomical observations made at Athens by Julius Schmidt, declares that 32 is an impossible date for the Crucifixion, because the 14th Nisan fell on Sunday, April 13th, or Monday the 14th, instead of the previous Thursday or Friday. Perhaps this is so, but the interested reader may be reminded that Anderson (pp. 99-105) anticipated the objections to the 32 date on the ground of the Paschal moon’s not falling on a Friday, and dealt vigorously with them. To one reader his reasoning seems convincing; see p. 102 especially.

I may add that in "The Expository Times" for February, 1937, there is an interesting article by the Rev. D. R. Fotheringham, M.A., brother of the late Dr. J. K. Fotheringham, on "Bible Chronology;" in it he draws attention, justifiably, to the great value of his brother’s researches, and gives his principal conclusions in reference to the date of the Nativity.

The date adopted by Bishop Headlam, Dr. Fotheringhan, and the Roman Church involves a Ministry of five passovers, which is pretty well an innovation. The strength and simplicity of the 32 date is that, by adding four passovers (the almost universally accepted length of the Ministry) to the one certain date afforded us the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1),i.e., August 19th, 28—we get 32 as the date for the Crucifixion.

That the Seventieth Week is eschatological is a view as old as the primitive Fathers, and is rendered certain by John in the Revelation, where Antichrist (the Prince of Dan. 9:26) persecutes the saints for three and a half years (=42 months or 1260 days, or 31 times)—precisely the closing portion of Daniel’s Seventieth Week of seven years. During the interval between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks Israel is set aside, and God is gathering out of the Nations a people for His Name (Acts. 15:14; Rom. 11:25). It is, broadly, the present Dispensation.

In his Thousand Years (1889), and in an appendix to Premillennial Essays, edited by him (1879), Dr. Nathaniel West, who gave a great part of his life to the literature of the Last Things, cites numerous exegetes on the Continent who treated the Seventieth Week or the last half of it as eschatological. Two present-day outstanding names may be added: Zahn, in his INT. and comments on Matthew 24:15 and Revelation 11-13 (Zahn-Kommentar), andDr. Adolph Schlatter, of Tubingen in his well-known Erldulerungen zum N.T. (1928), on the same passages. On the limits set to Jerusalem’s trial in Revelation 11:2, Schlatter says: "John had already read this in Daniel, whence he borrows the number that is employed for the duration of the last conflict and its tribulation—42 months or, what is the same thing, 1260 days, that is, 3 1/2 Jewish years, the last half-week of Daniel’s vision."

West (Thousand Years,pp.175 ff.) accepting the Cyrus date (536) as the a quo, and the birth of Christ as the ad quem, finds an interval of fifty-seven years between the first three and the last four of the 7 sevens in Daniel 9:5. But, as he himself admits, such an interval is "not even hinted at there" (p. 199); nor is it anywhere; it is otherwise with the gap between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks. Daniel 9:26a furnishes good ground for making the Crucifixion approximately, and not the birth of Christ, the ad quem of the sixty-ninth week. West’s handling of the seventieth week, however, is beyond praise; see his Thousand Years, and Daniel’s Great Prophecy—two of the greatest works in English on the Last Things, though one differs from the author on some points.

I think it was a true instinct that led Sir R. Anderson to choose our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the day on which the prophecy "unto Messiah the Prince" (Dan. 9:25; Luke 19:37-38) and the sixty-nine weeks were fulfilled. In his Light From the Ancient East Dr. Adolph Deissmann writes: "We may now say that the best interpretation of the Primitive Christian hope of the Parusia is the old Advent text, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee" (p. 372. And see our discussion of "Parousia," chapter 11 Deissmann always spells "Parousia" without the "o").

It is presupposed here and elsewhere in the volume that Antichrist is a person yet to arise in Roman Europe or the Near East in the Last Days, at the head of an ancient kingdom; also that this person and his kingdom are signified by the first Beast of Revelation 13, not the second; and that Antichrist is also identical with the "Little Horn" of Daniel 7 and the "Man of Sin" of 2 Thessalonians 2. There is an informing article on Antichrist by Canon Meyrick in Smith’s Bible Dictionary (4vols. 2nd Eng. edition 1893). In Bousset’s Antichrist Legend (E.T.) there is valuable light on Antichrist and the periods of prophecy, though written in unbelief. Newman’s sermons in Tracts for the Times (No. 83) give an interesting presentation of the Fathers’ views on Antichrist; whilst with vast learning Dollinger, perhaps the greatest of Catholic divines sets forth the history of the interpretation of the passage about the Man of Sin in 2 Thessalonians (The First Century of Christianity and the Church, Appendix I, E.T.). Dr. Samuel J. Andrews, author of an important Life of Christ, wrote Christianity and Antichristianity in Their Final Conflict, wherein he expounds the relevant passages on Antichrist and analyses keenly the trends of modern thought both within and without the Church. But it is in Dr. G.G. Findlay’s commentary on Thessalonians in CGT (Appendix) that one meets the most satisfactory treatment of the subject in English. In the face of modern research and unbelief, Dr. Findlay avowed his belief in the appearing of a personal Antichrist in the Last Days, and expounded the Scripture doctrine in a way that leaves nothing to be desired.

On the "Year-day" system, once popular, whereby the period of 1260 days in the Revelation of John was interpreted in the sense of years, and applied to a part of the present period of Church history, the reader is referred to a completely satisfactory refutation of it in Tregelles’ work on Daniel, and S.R. Maitland’s First and Second Inquiries. Itis to be noted that the new era of scientific exegesis has driven the theory, and most of the Protestant anti Roman interpretation, out of consideration. See the commentaries of Beckwith, Charles, Moffatt, Anderson Scott, and Simcox.

West (Thousand Years, p. 164), followed by F. W. Grant (Numerical Bible, Rev., p. 287), makes the strong point that if the Year-day theory is applicable to the second half of the Seventieth Week (= the 1260days), it is to be applied to the whole period of the Seventy Weeks; so that we get a period of 176,400years to elapse before the arrival of the promised blessings on the chosen city and people! Beyond question they are right. Further, without accepting the idea that all the "seals" of Revelation are still future one may say that there is a crushing refutation of the extravagances of the Historical School (on the sixth seal) in Sir R. Anderson’s Coming Prince pp. 291-304. Nothing better has been written in small compass. On the Futurist side the present writer knows nothing to compare with Zahn’s section on the Revelation in Volume 3 of his Introduction to the N.T. and parts 2-6 of West’s Thousand Years.

It is a pleasure to admit that the Historical School has produced one of the best of all books on the Lord’s Second Coming—Ecce Venit,by a true American saint, Dr. A.J. Gordon of Boston. It has recently been reprinted under the title Behold He Cometh (Thynne & Co., Ltd., 3s. 6d.).Dr. Gordon was formerly a Futurist; the book is to be recommended though one differs from him in referring so much in Scripture to the Roman Church, and in his acceptance of the Year-day theory, which is quite exploded.

People who are confident that they have identified the Apostate Church anywhere, except in their own—would do well to bear in mind a remark of Adolph Saphir’s. He observed how beautiful it was in the Apostles that, when the Lord announced that one of themselves would betray Him they all replied, "Lord, is it I?" He makes the point that Churches would do well to imitate the humility of the Apostles, and examine themselves, when they read of the Apostasy. There are distressing things in Rome, but it is the same Saphir who says that things are now said in Protestant Churches about our Lord that the "older Socinians would not have dared, nor even wished, to say."

Chapter 1 Endnotes:

[1] For the teaching of the Fathers I am indebted to C. D. Maitland’s Apostolic School of Prophetic Interpretation, and J. H. Newman’s Sermons on Antichrist in Tracts for the Times; the views of continental scholars (up to 1897) on the crucial passage of the millenarian controversy (Rev. 19-20) will be found in Dr. Nathaniel West’s Thousand Years in Both Testaments, and in Pre‑millennial Essays (Appendix), edited by him.

It will be understood that I am not committing all the writers mentioned to uniformity in interpreting the events under (6). Thus Bengel had a peculiar doctrine of a second millennium following that in verse 3 of Rev. 20.

There is a learned summary of the controversy in Harnack’s article in the Encycl. Brit. (“Millennium “). See also the article by Dr. C. A. Briggs in the New Schaff‑Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge.

The names of Bp. Ellicott and Abp. Trench are included on the strength of the article Millennium in Chambers’ Encyclopedia (revised ed.).

[2] The application of the phrase to the Rapture (by Anderson, Gaebelein, and Scofield) is examined in the chapter “Messiah’s Day.”

[3] This is not admitted, however, by others; see E. Dennett, an interpreter of Darby: The Blessed Hope, pp. 55 and 81.

[4] Darbyists interpret the difficult verses, 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7, of the removal of the Holy Spirit at the Rapture; evil then comes in like a flood. I deal with the point in the last chapter but one of this volume. Kelly deals with the theory in Christ’s Coming Again, vol. 2, p. 99, etc.

[5] “The Morning Star,” August 1, 1912; Touching the Coming (pp. 141-142). In their commentary on Thessalonians the authors say: “Where it is used prophetically, parousia refers to a period beginning with the descent of the Lord from Heaven to the air, 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17, and ending with His revelation and manifestation to the world” (p. 88). The extract from Mr. Hogg’s article is given at length in the last chapter of this volume. Anderson’s view of the interval between the Rapture and the millennium is to be found in his Coming Prince, p. 289, and is quoted later.


The fundamental point in our inquiry concerns the relation of the Rapture of the risen and transfigured saints to the Day of the Lord: does the one precede the other by a period of several years? Now concerning the Rapture there are only three undisputed texts in the Bible that deal with it, namely 1 Thessalonians 4:17, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, and John 14:3; but there are many passages in both the Old and New Testaments that speak of the resurrection of the holy dead, which, Darbyists assure us, takes place in immediate connection with the Rapture. For the present, therefore, we may dismiss the Rapture from our minds, and confine our attention to the first resurrection, for wheresoever the resurrection is, there will the Rapture be also. All admit this except Bullinger and Miss. Habershon, whose view we shall examine later.

But it is necessary to explain that, in going to the O.T., we do so with no misapprehension concerning the nature and calling of the Church of the N.T. We shall not look for N.T. revelations there: we aim merely at finding out when "the world’s grey fathers," and the rest of the holy dead of O.T. times, awake to life. Pre-trib writers themselves assert that if we can fix the epoch of this resurrection, we can know the time of the resurrection of the Church, since the two synchronize. Hence the relevancy of the inquiry.

We shall consider first a passage that, as A. B. Davidson has said in his Isaiah, contains "the first clear statement of a resurrection" (p. 194).

(1) Isaiah 26:19 (R.V.).

Thy dead shall live; my dead bodies shall arise.
Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust;
For thy dew is as the dew of herbs,
And the earth shall cast forth the dead.

This beautiful verse occurs in one of the most remarkable of all Isaiah’s prophecies; the section that is found in—Isaiah 24-27—is known as "the little Apocalypse of Isaiah." From end to end it shows, in the words of Theodoret (cited by Kelly) "what shall be in the consummation of the present age." And Kelly himself says, in his Isaiah: "The grand aim of the Spirit is to portray that mighty and universal catastrophe which is succeeded by the times of refreshing for Israel and the earth, of which God has spoken by His holy prophets since the world began" (p. 247).

In chapter 25 we hear the song of redemption, for the Redeemer has come to Zion, and Israel, looking to Him alone, is saved. There follows from restored Israel a hymn of thanksgiving, mingled with a sense of disappointment at the smallness of her numbers. "The answer to these disappointed hopes is the resurrection, verse 19" (Skinner, Isaiah, p. 197).

Eloquent and beautiful are the words of Sir G. A. Smith:

Now the question that concerns us is whether we have any indication in this section of Isaiah concerning the time when this momentous event takes place? To an impartial mind there can be no doubt about the answer; this resurrection is to take place at the Day of the Lord, when Jehovah shall come, and Israel shall be reconciled to Him. The proofs of this are incontestable. The principal signs and events of the whole prophecy move, to use figurative language, within the cycle of the sixth and seventh seals of the Apocalypse. Here we have the Coming of the Lord, the conversion of Israel, the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom, and the sidereal signs in heaven that immediately precede them. Living Israel is restored, and the sleeping saints are brought to life, at the beginning of the Messianic Reign, not some years or decades before, as the new theories require.

The reader may be interested to know what explanation pre-tribs give of this passage. Their answer is a flat denial that a bodily resurrection is referred to. Kelly’s explanation may be taken as the best available. In his Isaiah (p. 267), he deals with the matter; according to him the prophecy in chapter 26:19 has nothing to do with a literal resurrection from the dead, but is merely a symbolical representation of the restoration of the nation to Palestine. "It is no question of bodily death" he would have us believe, "but of national revival." But there are insuperable objections to this interpretation.

(a) The ordinary reader feels that the language can bear only one interpretation, namely: that here we have a resurrection of the dead in the ordinary meaning of the term. The wording of the promise indicates unmistakably that this is so. Phrases are used, one after another, that preclude all possibility of spiritualizing:

If terms such as these do not signify a literal resurrection from the dead, what terms can? Throughout the whole Bible we meet with no passage that gives, in the same compass, so unequivocal a testimony to the doctrine of a bodily resurrection. Sir G. A. Smith remarks:

In the same vein Cheyne comments on verse 19: "The descriptions in Hosea and Ezekiel are allegorical (comp. Hosea 6:1, Ezek. 36:27, 37:11-14), whereas the whole context of our passage (especially v. 14) shows that the language of the writer is to be taken literally." He then quotes Matthew Arnold: "Sublimely recovering himself, the prophet cries that God’s saints, though they are dead, shall live," and Cheyne himself concludes, "and shall share the duties and the privileges of regenerate Israel" (Isaiah, vol. 1., p. 156). Delitzsch says: "Compared with what is stated in the Apocalypse of the New Testament, it is the ‘first resurrection’ which is here predicted" (Isaiah, vol. 1., p. 448). And Skinner remarks: "It is a promise of life from the dead in the most literal sense, a resurrection of those members of the community whom death had seemed to rob of their share in the hope of Israel" (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, p. 192).

These quotations from what are recognized to be the four best commentaries on Isaiah in the English language, certainly give a more adequate interpretation than those who, like Kelly, explain away the prophecy as "highly figurative language."

(b) If it is legitimate to spiritualize so clear a text as Isaiah 26:19 on the resurrection of the dead, then those of us who insist upon the literal interpretation of the first resurrection in Revelation 20:4, are placed in circumstances of peculiar difficulty when arguing with Post-millennialists. These, in opposing Pre-millennialism, have explained the first resurrection of the Apocalypse in a figurative way; they would have us believe that it signifies the revival of the martyr spirit in the Church, or the reign of the saints in life at the present time. And if pre-tribs are at liberty to spiritualize the first resurrection in the O.T., then it is clearly the hollowest inconsistency to cavil at those who explain away that resurrection in the New.

If the expressions under consideration mean only the gathering of the Jews to Palestine, then, to borrow the forceful words of Dean Alford in regard to the post-millennialists’ treatment of Revelation 20:4, "there is an end of all significance in language, and Scripture is wiped out as a definite testimony to anything."

(c) It is observable also that the theory that the resurrection in Isaiah 26:19 merely signifies the national revival of Israel is clearly inadmissible, because the resurrection in that passage, as we have seen, takes place after the Great Tribulation, and consequent upon the Coming of Jehovah. But we know from all Scripture that the national revival and restoration of the people precede it, for the Seventieth Week opens with the nation of Israel already restored to the land, and in league with the Coming Prince (Dan. 9:24). In other words, the national restoration predicted in Ezekiel 37:1-14 takes place years before the fulfillment of the resurrection in Isaiah 26:19. As Salmond says in his Immortality: "The theme of this great passage is a personal resurrection, not a corporate. The national resurrection is accomplished, and this is the restoration of her dead members to revived Israel" (p. 212).

Kelly raises a further objection to the literal interpretation of verse 19 by urging that, if we so interpret the resurrection there, we must likewise interpret verse 14 literally; but this, he maintains, leads to a heterodox doctrine, namely: that the wicked dead will not rise at the resurrection of judgment. But this is a wrong conclusion. We may certainly interpret verse 14 literally without committing Isaiah to the dogma of annihilation. The objection urged springs from a failure to observe carefully the context, and from a hasty appeal to the chance reading of our English version. The prophet is not dealing with the eternal destiny of the wicked, but only with the security of Israel against her former oppressors. The following is a more accurate translation and comment by Delitzsch, one of the greatest of Isaiah’s interpreters. (See R.V., mg.)

It will be clear, therefore, to thoughtful readers, that what the prophet has in mind in verse 14 is not the destiny of unbelievers, but the impossibility of Israel’s former lords’ coming back to life by any means of self-resuscitation. They are locked up in Sheol and cannot come back to life. This was the very purpose of God in sweeping them off the earth. Skinner says: "The long heathen domination is now a thing of the past; the oppressors have gone to the realms of shades, and shall trouble the world no more" (Isaiah, p. 195).

The pre-trib suggestion of spiritualizing the resurrection in Isaiah 26:19, having been found untenable, we conclude that the passage teaches a literal resurrection of the just, and, secondly, that this resurrection will occur, not before the apocalyptic Week, but at its close.[1]

T. Newberry (Englishman’s Bible, p. 71) admits that the resurrection of Isaiah 26:19, is literal, but seeks to save the pre-trib position by maintaining that the dead raised are only those of "the martyred Remnant," who are raised, ex hypothesi, seven years after the holy dead of O.T. times. Without anticipating questions to be discussed later, it is to be said that there is no warrant whatever for limiting this resurrection to semi-converted Jews slain in the Great Tribulation. In the next place, it is the doctrine of Scripture[2] that the Jewish Remnant is converted only at the appearing of Messiah; if, therefore, any of its members die before the Day of the Lord, they will rise, not in the first resurrection, but the last. But, thirdly, to speak of a martyred "Remnant" is a ludicrous contradiction in terms. The Remnant of prophecy consists of those who escape uninjured the desolations of the Last Days. They will not die. And we do not usually speak of drowned "survivors" of a shipwreck. Just as incongruous is it to speak of a martyred "Remnant." This is the first of several fictions.

(2) Isaiah 25:7-8 (R.V.).

Happily there is no controversy with our opponents on the import of this passage; they all admit, in view of N.T. usage, that we are to understand a bodily resurrection in the most definite sense. "This, we know from God Himself," says Kelly in his Isaiah, "will be realized in the literal resurrection of the body, when the saints are raised" (p. 265). The only question, therefore, that concerns us, is the time of the resurrection.

According to the new theories the resurrection of Israel’s holy dead takes place years before the conversion of living Israel, the Coming of Jehovah, and the inauguration of the Kingdom; but according to Isaiah that resurrection is inseparably bound up with these momentous events. When living Israel turns to Jehovah, sleeping Israel awakes from the dead. Chapter 25 relates the establishment in power of Jehovah’s Kingdom (v. 6). We then have the resurrection of the dead (vv. 7-8); and in verse 9 we read, "and it shall be said in that day—(the day of the Kingdom and resurrection) Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we, will be glad and rejoice in His salvation." Here we have the Advent of Jehovah, and the new welcome He receives from repentant Israel. But these take place on the day of resurrection, as the great Apostle conclusively shows in 1 Corinthians 15:54.

Kelly, after making the damaging admission (Isaiah, p. 257), that "the resurrection synchronizes with the deliverance of Israel," quietly proceeds to argue on the presupposition that it precedes it by a period of several years! Darby and Trotter also,[3] when arguing against the post-millennalists, quote Isaiah 25:8, as decisive proof that the resurrection of the saints is "indissolubly linked" with the commencement of the reign of Christ; yet when defending their theories on the Rapture they calmly tell us that the resurrection precedes the millennium by several years, and perhaps decades. But they cannot be allowed to blow hot and cold over the prophecy if Isaiah 25:8 establishes the truth that the resurrection introduces the renewal of Israel and the reign of Christ, it necessarily overthrows the fiction that the same resurrection is to be followed by the rise and the reign of Antichrist, and the deepest degradation that the Nation has ever known. Pre-tribs can have one or the other; they cannot have it both ways.

Here again, therefore, we have found the theories under review in hopeless contradiction with Scripture, and this, not on some trivial point, but on the central position of the whole ingenious system.

(3) Daniel 12:1-3.

Here is a passage that, until yesterday, was almost universally applied to the resurrection of the dead in the ordinary sense. Alike among Jewish and Christian expositors, the belief has been general that here we meet with the doctrine of a bodily resurrection. And the reason for this unanimity is not far to seek: the plain sense of the language points clearly in that direction. We are told that many of them that "sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake;" here are the ordinary idioms for bodily death and resurrection. And in the words that follow we find exalted terms in reference to the resultant glory of the saints who rise. The import of the passage is so clear that Orr, in The Christian View of God and the World, remarks—"this needs no comment" (p. 210). And Salmond in his Immortality observes: "This is the most definite, the most literal, the largest expression of the hope of a resurrection. It is the resurrection of the individual" (p. 213).

That, it is safe to say, is not only the judgment of modern Christian scholars of all schools, but the impression of the general reader who approaches the passage without any preconceptions.

Nevertheless, we are challenged on our interpretation. Pre-tribs insist that we greatly err in referring this passage to a bodily resurrection, for, they say, it relates to nothing more than the future restoration of Israel to Palestine. Kelly in his Daniel says: "The passage has no direct reference to a bodily resurrection, which simply furnishes a figure for the national revival of Israel, who are described as sleeping in the dust, to express the greatness of their degradation" (p. 224).

The same view is maintained, as usual, with much energy and dogmatism by Gaebelein in his Daniel (p. 200).

And these are the writers who contemn the spiritualizing of O.T. prophecies, and tell us how unpardonable is the fault of those who explain away the first resurrection in Revelation 20:4! Yet they themselves, when their theories require it, are free to adopt the mischievous canon that they condemn in others. It is pitiable that whilst modern critical scholars are unanimous in insisting on the literal and miraculous character of the resurrection in Daniel 12:2, the theorists join hands with Sadducees and rationalists in reducing it to thin air. I say rationalists, though a stronger term might have been employed, for it was the infidel Porphyry who first set the fashion in Christendom of "spiritualizing" the resurrection in Daniel. Now beyond question pre-tribs, believe in resurrection, and their motive for explaining away Daniel 12:1-3 is different from Porphyry’s, but the fact remains that their spiritualizing principle "belongs to that mad Prophyry."[4] However, let us now examine the pre-trib interpretation of the resurrection.

(a) I must again remind the reader that we are not looking for the resurrection of the Church in this passage. We are concerned only with the question whether the text teaches the resurrection of the holy dead of Daniel’s people, the Jews. This disposes of several pages of adroit reasoning by Kelly and his American interpreter. It will be sufficient if we can prove that the righteous dead in Israel are raised, for it is these writers who tell us that the Church will be raised at the same time.

(b) If the terms used in Daniel 12:2-3 do not describe a literal resurrection, with the heavenly glory that follows, can our opponents tell us what terms can describe such a resurrection? We read of "sleepers" in the "dust of the earth" "awaking" to "everlasting life," and then of their "shining" like the brightness of the stars in the firmament. If these expressions do not mean literal resurrection from the dead, then literal resurrection must be something different from the idea usually entertained.

In his Daniel Tregelles writes:

(c) That the idea of resurrection may be used in a figurative sense is not at all unreasonable. Indeed, we shall see presently that it is used in the O.T. to signify, as these writers urge, the national gathering and restoration of Israel to Palestine. There can be no logical objection, therefore, to considering the application of this principle to the passage in Daniel. But let us beware of supposing that because the figurative interpretation holds good in one case, therefore it maybe applied indiscriminately to all. That would be bad logic, and worse theology, for it would rob us of the hope of resurrection altogether. Every passage must be considered on its merits.

Now if the theory of a figurative interpretation is to hold good, it must be able to give a good account of itself. The figurative resurrection must not only free us from the difficulty that the literal interpretation is supposed to involve us in, but must be consistent with itself, and in harmony with the general teaching of the prophetic Scriptures. Can the pre-trib interpretation stand this test? It cannot. A single consideration will prove this conclusively. The whole teaching of Scripture, and certainly of Daniel, is that Israel is gathered to Palestine some considerable time before the beginning of the "time of trouble" mentioned in verse 1. Indeed, that trial is within the period of Antichrist’s covenant with the mass of the Jews already in the land (Dan. 9:27). That is Israel as a nation when the time of tribulation opens, is already raised and gathered in the sense that the Darbyist interpretation of Daniel 12:2-3 presupposes. But according to Daniel 12:2-3 the resurrection takes place at the conclusion of the Great Tribulation, for it synchronizes with Israel’s deliverance from her last great struggle. The same insuperable difficulty that barred the way to their allegorizing Isaiah 26:19, confronts pre-tribs here.

Referring to the resurrection of Daniel 12:2, Kelly in his Revelation says: "It is evidently before the time of deliverance and blessing.... This resurrection, literal or figurative, is before the millennium, and after it is a time of greater trouble than Israel ever knew" (p. 456).

But a blind man can see that the exact contrary is the truth. The resurrection follows the tribulation. The angel tells Daniel that at that time Israel would be delivered—that is, delivered from the time of trouble just mentioned. Then it is that the sleepers in the dust awake to inherit eternal life, and the glory of the resurrection. The two events synchronize. And the veriest tyro of a prophetic student knows that Israel is delivered at the Day of the Lord,[5] —that is, at the close of Daniel’s apocalyptic Week, as Kelly himself argues in the same volume (Revelation, p. 456). Only the exigencies of a fallacious system could have led a devout teacher to go in the teeth of the plain wording of Scripture.

In view, therefore, of the insurmountable difficulty in the way of allegorizing the interpretation of Daniel 12:2-3, we come back to the view that it refers to the resurrection of the body, more than ever convinced that this is the only interpretation that can stand. And in adopting the literal interpretation of the passage we not only have the support of almost every ancient and modern scholar of diverse schools,[6] but also of some of the weightiest advocates of pre-trib theories. Newberry and Scofield in their editions of the Bible take the resurrection literally, and Trotter defends the same view.

It may be objected by some who accept the literal interpretation in Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2-3, that the passages do not commit us to a strict sequence of events at the time of the End. No doubt it was on this assumption that Scofield and others gave their support to the literal interpretation. But the plea will not avail. The prophecies in Isaiah and Daniel associate the resurrection of the holy dead with the deliverance of living Israel, the Appearing of Jehovah, and the Coming of the Kingdom. Most clearly is this the case in Isaiah 25:8 and 26:19, which occur in the same vision of the "consummation of the Age." And Daniel’s visions are a valuable aid in sorting out the leading events of the End-time. To be sure there are questions on which we await light, and concerning which we must remain in suspense, but the time of the resurrection is not one of them. It shines out like a beacon to guide us on our way.

The second half of Daniel 11 deals chiefly with the events of the second half of the apocalyptic Week. The principal personage is the Antichrist of the Last Days. Just at what verse he is introduced is uncertain, because of the well-known characteristic of prophecy to unite events on a near, and a distant horizon. Verse 45 at any rate gives us the destruction of Antichrist, and this brings us to the close of the Week. But the revealing angel, having shown Daniel the closing events of Antichrist’s career, now turns, in keeping with a well-known law of prophecy, to deal with the issues of the apocalyptic Week as they affect the people of God.

"And at that time," he says (i.e., the time of the career of the impious king)— shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time" (12:1).

That this occurs during the closing half of the Week no pre-trib disputes. Now the termination of the week is characterized by two events, among others, —first, the destruction of Antichrist, and, secondly, the deliverance of Daniel’s people. Antichrist is in the saddle; the Great Tribulation rages, and Daniel’s people suffer. But the Adversary comes to his end with none to help him, and the People are delivered, every one that is written in the Book of Life. Nothing can be surer than that here we are at the close of the tribulation. What happens then? The resurrection of the saints: "many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake" to everlasting life, and shine like the stars in the night expanse.

We may be sure that when writers like Scofield and Newberry adopted the literal interpretation of Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2-3, they did so because candor compelled them, and because the other interpretation was strained and unnatural. They should have seen that the obvious interpretation is fatal to their whole scheme of the prophetic future; for according to the prophet Daniel the resurrection of the holy dead in Israel is accompanied by the overthrow of Antichrist, the deliverance and renewal of the covenant People, and the inauguration of God’s kingly rule. But according to pre-tribs, the approaching resurrection of the saints is to be followed by the rise, reign and triumph of Antichrist, and the darkest night in Israel’s long history! "It is almost a miracle how people read Scripture without understanding it," remarked Darby on one occasion;[7] but a more prosaic source of misunderstanding God’s word is the being infatuated with some favorite theory, and reading into Scripture what pleases us. Then there is an application of an alleged saying of Goethe’s: "We are never deceived: we deceive ourselves."

With reference to verse 2 of chapter 12, it remains to deal with a difficulty that exists in connection with the current versions. These seem to teach that the resurrection is not limited to the just, but that certain of the wicked dead are raised at the same time "to suffer shame and everlasting contempt." This is a genuine difficulty to many in accepting the literal interpretation of the passage, for in all other Scriptures the first resurrection is limited to the righteous. The apparent discrepancy is also seized upon to warrant the spiritualizing of the resurrection. "If you interpret this resurrection literally," they insist, "you are shut up to believing that unbelievers arise at the first resurrection—an idea that contradicts the rest of Scripture." Well, we have found that Kelly’s figurative interpretation not only contradicts Scripture, but his own scheme as well. The question is, can the literal interpretation be shown to harmonize with the general teaching of Scripture on the first resurrection?

The answer is that it can. According to competent Hebraists the second verse of Daniel 12 is not happily translated in the English versions. Tregelles, in his Daniel, remarks:

Nathaniel West, another competent Hebrew scholar, says in his Thousand Years:

And in a note West adds:

Even Driver, who accepts the common rendering, admits that the limitation of the resurrection to the righteous became the prevalent view among Jewish teachers. He says: "The idea that the resurrection was to be limited to Israel appears also among the later Jews; indeed, it became the accepted doctrine that it was to be limited to righteous Israelites" (Daniel, p. 93).

This is of first importance, for it ought to be allowed that Jews are the best judges of their own language.

In view, therefore, of the evidence produced, I think it is clear that Daniel 12:2, read literally and correctly, is fully in harmony with the doctrine of Scripture upon the first resurrection.[8]

(4) Daniel 12:13 (R.V.).

One correction needs to be made in the ordinary versions, and that is the elimination of the words "thy way;" they do not exist in the Hebrew text. Their presence in the English version assists the thought that the end of Daniel’s life is meant. But this is not at all what is intended. The true sense is given by Driver in his Daniel:

In agreement with this Moffatt renders: "Go and wait for the end; you shall rest in the grave and then rise to enjoy your share at the end of the days."

Here, then, in the clearest manner, Daniel’s personal resurrection is associated with the End. What end? The end to which the Book of Daniel makes such frequent reference: the end of the pre-Messianic age; of the times of the Gentiles; of Israel’s great tribulation, and of her estrangement from God; the end of the career of the Prince that shall come. The first certain occurrence of the phrase in an eschatological sense is in Daniel 9:26: "and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined" (R.V.). This is the description of the age that we now live in; the age that succeeds the cutting off of Messiah the Prince, and the destruction of Daniel’s city by the Romans.

Now Daniel’s resurrection, as in 12:2-3, is distinctly connected with "the end." As Tregelles observes:

It remains only to summarize the results arrived at in this chapter.

(a) In Isaiah 26:19 "we have the first clear statement of a resurrection;" and this occurs in immediate association with the Coming of Jehovah, and the restoration and conversion of living Israel. In the most definite manner it is located at the Day of the Lord (v. 1).

(b) In Isaiah 25:8, which occurs in the same vision, the resurrection of Israel’s righteous dead, and the removal of the veil of death, again take place in immediate association with the Coming of Jehovah, the conversion of Israel, and the inauguration of the Messianic Kingdom.

(c) In Daniel 12:2-3, the resurrection of the saints follows the Great Tribulation, and is accompanied by the destruction of Antichrist, and the deliverance of Daniel’s people at the Day of the Lord.

(d) In Daniel 12:13, Daniel’s personal resurrection is associated with the End of the days of which his book speaks so much. When the End comes, Daniel’s rest will be finished, and he will rise and stand in his lot.

(e) In Hosea 6:2 and Ezekiel 37:1-14, the familiar idea of bodily resurrection is used to set forth the future national revival of Israel, and her restoration to the land of promise. They are manifestly to be interpreted as figurative. See Excursus below.

These conclusions are fatal to the new theories of the Second Advent, because it is a fundamental point in those theories that the sleeping saints of Israel will rise some years before the destruction of Antichrist, the deliverance of Israel, and the Coming of Jehovah and His Kingdom.

Excursus To Chapter 2 The Resurrection in Ezekiel 37:1-14

Before closing our consideration of the resurrection of the just in the O.T. it is necessary to advert to one other text relevant to the subject of resurrection. I refer to Ezekiel 37:1-14, where we have the resurrection of a valley of dry bones.[9] The almost universal, interpretation of this passage, alike among Jewish and Christian commentators, is that it depicts the regathering of Israel to the land of Palestine and the reconstitution of the national life. The Spirit of God makes use of the idea of resurrection to teach the resuscitation of Israel from their "graves" among the nations. There can be no doubt that the regathering of Israel to the land of Palestine is the significance of this passage. It is fitting to admit that here we have the idea of resurrection used in a symbolical way.

Seizing hold of this case of a figurative resurrection in Ezekiel 37, Kelly and others seek to justify their spiritualizing the resurrection in Isaiah 26:19, and Daniel 12:2-3. Again and again Kelly insists that the three passages stand or fall together.[10] He is most confident of this, and gravely informs us that, as the Spirit of God has already decided the question, we can have no option in the matter. In his Isaiah he says: "The explanation of the Holy Ghost is express and conclusive. Thus we can carry divine light back to Isaiah 26, where the very same allusion is found" (p. 268).

Now I have already shown that the principle of spiritualizing Daniel 12:2-3 originated with "that mad Porphyry;" and that even modern critics acknowledge that Daniel 12:2 contains a definite prophecy of the resurrection of the saints. It is worth noting also that Kelly’s dictum that Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2 must be spiritualized because the resurrection in Ezekiel 37 is to be so interpreted, is a reproduction of the stock-in-trade of the Sadducean heretics of old. They too had unscriptural theories of the resurrection to maintain; theories, too, that clashed with Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2-3. Their doctrine was that a resurrection of the body was not taught in the O.T. How, therefore, could they explain these two texts that the orthodox Pharisees pressed on them? Why, nothing was easier. They adopted the same tactics as Kelly and Gaebelein, and pressed Esekiel 37 to prove their theories.

Now Darbylsts undoubtedly believe in the resurrection, but if Ezekiel 37 is to be made the touchstone, as they, like the Sadducees, insist, then we shall have no texts on the resurrection left to us.

The question of importance is, are there any considerations that warrant our interpreting Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2-3 literally, and Ezekiel 37 in a figurative way? There are considerations of a cogent character.

1. Kelly admits that "we know from God Himself" that Isaiah 25:8 refers to a literal resurrection. Now Isaiah 26:19 occurs in the same vision, and the resurrection that it speaks of occurs at the same time (26:1 "in that day"). Is it reasonable that in the one verse we have a literal, and in the other a figurative, resurrection, when we know that the one is certainly literal? Kelly’s own words describe the case exactly: "We are not therefore at liberty to explain the vision according to our own thoughts. The explanation of the Holy Ghost is express and conclusive. Thus we can carry divine light to Isaiah 26, where the very same allusion is found."

2. Whilst there are one or two expressions in Ezekiel 37 that are thoroughly applicable to a literal resurrection, the passage taken as a whole is inconsistent with the N.T. doctrine of the resurrection of the body. Kelly says, "it is not at all the way in which the resurrection of the dead is presented." The Spirit of God, in the N.T., in reply to a question concerning the manner of the resurrection, replied, "Thou foolish one." Yet here in Ezekiel we have a literal description of bone coming to bone, sinew to sinew, flesh and skin covering them all. As a figure all this is deeply instructive of the resuscitation of Israel; we are seeing something of it in our own day. But as a description of the bodily resurrection of the righteous it is incongruous.

In Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12, on the other hand, we have the strongest possible idioms used to describe the dead and their resurrection; and yet there is nothing to offend the most advanced revelation of the N.T.

3. The results that follow from the resurrection in Daniel 12:2-3 and Ezekiel 37: are such as to indicate that they are absolutely different. What is the result of the resurrection in Daniel? Many sleepers in the dust awake to life everlasting; the wise shine forth as the brightness of the expanse, and soul-winners like stars for ever and ever.

Scarcely anything in the N.T. descriptions of the resurrection exceeds the glory that is here revealed to be the portion of those who rise in this resurrection. The glory is evidently of a heavenly character; they awake in Jehovah’s likeness.

What is the result of the resurrection in Ezekiel? The placing of the nation in the land of Palestine (vv. 12, 14 and 21). National revival is expressly asserted to be the meaning of the prophecy. These considerations are sufficient to settle the whole matter. As Salmond says in his Immortality:—

There is not so much as a syllable in Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2-3 to correspond to this. The teaching of these verses, as Skinner says, in his Commentary,

4. The resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 and Isaiah 26:19 accompanies the deliverance of Israel and the destruction of Antichrist at the inauguration of the Kingdom; but the resurrection of Ezekiel 37, inasmuch as it portrays the introduction of Israel to Palestine, takes place years before the End. Indeed, it is taking place in our own day. The resurrections in the respective passages are therefore distinct.

5. In Ezekiel 37:11 the people in the "graves," in a condition of "death," are represented as conversing about their helpless condition; a fact that proves clearly the figurative character of the death and resurrection. Nothing like this, however, is found in Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2.

I think these considerations will suffice to convince thoughtful and impartial readers that the desire to interpret these last two passages figuratively and not literally, on the analogy of Ezekiel 37, is to be rejected as both rash and unwarranted.[11]

Chapter 2 Endnotes:

[1] Herewith I append additional comments by modern scholars and theologians:—

Franz Delitzsch: “Compared with what is stated in the Apocalypse of the New Testament, it is the ‘first resurrection’ which is here predicted” (Isaiah, vol. 1, p. 448).

J. Skinner: “It is a promise of life from the dead in the most literal sense, a resurrection of those members of the community whom death had seemed to rob of their share in the hope of Israel” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, Isaiah, vol. 1, p. 192).

H. C. Orelli: “This is definitely and clearly the sense of the prophecy of Isaiah...; here plainly enough the reference is to the dwellers in the dust whom the earth has swallowed up, but must now restore” (O.T. Prophecy, p. 303).

G. F. Oehler: “That the resurrection must not be regarded as typical (as though only the deliverance of the people of God from their troubles were intended) is evident from the contrast in verse 12 and the whole context” (O.T. Theology, vol. 2, p. 393, Clark’s ed.).

G. Rawlinson: “The prophet proceeds to cheer and encourage his disciples by a clear and positive declaration of the resurrection.., but only of the just, perhaps only of the Israelites” (Pulpit Commentary, Isaiah, 1., p. 416).

So also Pusey, Daniel, p. 506; Orr, The Christian View of God and the World (p. 209); P. Fairbairn, Typology, vol. 1, p. 301; A. B. Davidson, O.T. Theology, pp. 450, 528.

The literal interpretation is also accepted by some leading Darbyist writers see The Scofield Reference Bible, Newberry’s Englishman’s Bible, refs., W. Trotter, p. 439; E. W. Bullinger, Companion Bible, in loco.

[2] Zechariah 12-13; Matthew 23:39; Romans 11:25‑6.

[3] See chapter 4 on 1 Corinthians 15:54.

[4] This was the gloss made by Eudoxius concerning the comment of Polychronius—one of Porphyry’s Christian admirers—in his exposition of Daniel 12. “This interpretation of thine, O Polychronius, belongs to that mad Porphyry” (cited by C. D. Maitland, pp. 195‑7).

[5] Zechariah 12‑14; Matthew 23:39; Revelation 14:1‑5; Romans 11:25‑7.

[6] I append herewith brief additional comments of other scholars:

A. B. Davidson: “In Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12 the actual resurrection of individual members of Israel is predicted (cf. Job. 14:13).” (CB, Ezekiel, p. 267; cf. his O.T. Theology, p. 528).

R. Sinker: “The plainest declaration in the O.T. of a future life, ‘according to each man’s works’” (Temple Bible, Daniel, p. 194).

A. R. Faussett: “Not the general resurrection, but that of those who share in the first resurrection; the rest of the dead being not to rise until the end of the thousand years” (Rev. 20:3, 5, 6; cf. 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 4:16) (Daniel in loco).

S. R. Driver: “The faithful among God’s people are delivered; a resurrection of Israelites follows; and the age of bliss then begins for the righteous” (Daniel, p. 200).

E. B. Pusey: “In chapter 12, after the prediction of the last troubles of Antichrist, the Resurrection is foretold” (Daniel, p. 491).

Pulpit Commentary: “This is a distinct reference to the resurrection of the body,” in loco.

G. F. Oehler: “The resurrection of the dead is, however, decidedly taught in Daniel 12” (Theology of the 0.T., 2, p. 395).

E. W. Bullinger: On the words “shall awake” he remarks: “This is bodily resurrection” (Companion Bible, p. 1205).

These testimonies could be greatly increased from the literature since 1914. A few are given at the end of the Excursus to this chapter.

[7] Second Coming, p. 132.

[8] Trotter, p. 440, defends the reasonableness of the literal interpretation of Daniel 12:2, and refutes the objection that the text involves the resurrection of the wicked at the same time.

[9] The passage in Hosea 6:2 stands or falls with Ezekiel 37.­

[10] Isaiah, p. 267; Daniel, pp. 222 ff.; Revelation, pp. 455‑6.

[11] In the monumental work of Dr. G. F. Moore, of Harvard, on Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era (3 vols., 1932), will be found complete corroboration of the exegesis in this chapter on Isaiah 26:19, Daniel 12:2‑3, and Ezekiel 37. He reproduces a discussion between Rabban Gamaliel and the Sadducees that confirms the quotation given from Edersheim; also he gives the views of those who found only a resurrection of the righteous in Daniel 12:2.

The same exegesis will be found in Hengstenberg’s Christology, Ewald’s O.T. and N.T. Theology, Riehm’s Messianic Prophecy, Charles’s Critical History of a Future Life, Davidson’s and Schultz’s works on O.T. Theology, the works of C. H. H. Wright, Montgomery (ICC), West, and Auberlen on Daniel. So also in the Schaff‑Herzog Encyclopedia, the Ency. Britannica, Hasting’s DB (“ Eschatology of the O.T.”), and Orr’s International Bible Encyclopedia.

I have not found a single work of any importance that upholds the spiritualizing of Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2 by the Sadducees and Darbyists. The most that can be said is that Woods and Powell, in their important work The Hebrew Prophets (4 vols.) hesitate on Isaiah 26, but not on Daniel 12:2. Hastings’s Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, and Dr. Oesterley’s The Last Things give the orthodox interpretation.


IN our examination of the O.T. we found four passages in the prophecies of Isaiah and Daniel that taught clearly the resurrection of Israel’s righteous dead. Alternative theories were examined, but had to be rejected, as straining the natural sense of the texts. In addition to this we were able to locate with relative exactness the time of that resurrection. It is to take place at the Day of our Lord, when Antichrist is destroyed, Israel converted, and the Messianic Age introduced by the Coming of the Lord. This conclusion was reached, not by forcing the language of the texts, but by carefully noting the context, and adopting the plain, literal sense of the language; for, as the old divines used to say, "if the literal sense make good sense, seek no other sense."[1]

Now the conclusion we have reached concerning the resurrection of Israel’s holy dead has been seen to be subversive of the new theories of the Advent. This being so, we should be warranted in claiming a verdict on the main issue, for if, as Kelly observed in his controversy with the post-millennialists, "one text is enough to hang heaven and earth upon," then four unambiguous texts are sufficient to sustain the doctrine of the End that the new system was intended to supplant. Nevertheless it is desirable to examine the teaching of the N.T. as well. And as the present work is intended for those who believe in a real inspiration of the Bible, and the harmony of the word of prophecy, it is unnecessary to postulate an agreement between the Last Things of the Old and New Testaments. It is a reasonable presupposition that, given a clear revelation in the O.T. of the resurrection of Israel’s dead, nothing in the New will contradict it. We may expect to find a further unfolding of the earlier revelation, but nothing less than plain teaching to the contrary will avail to make us abandon the conclusion already reached from the O.T. Does the N.T. contain any such teaching? In other words, does it indicate that the resurrection of the saints is to occur several years or decades before the Day of the Lord, as Darbyists insist? To this inquiry we now proceed.

(1) John 6:39-54; 11:24. The first passage, or rather expression, to be considered is the saying of our Lord, "I will raise him up at the last day." It occurs in connection with the resurrection in five places of John’s Gospel: 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24.[2]

It is worthy of note that in every case in the above texts the resurrection referred to is clearly that of the faithful dead. It is the resurrection of "life" (John 5:29), inasmuch as Christ promises it to those who believe and feed on Him. With Martha the resurrection of her brother is a matter of hope, for he had waited for the consolation of Israel. In other words, these texts all speak of the "resurrection of the just" (Luke 14:14). And we are told in every case that it takes place "at the last day." Here is a very definite point of time; does it differ from that marked for the resurrection by Isaiah 26:19, 25:8; Daniel 12:1-3, and 12:13? It does not; there is complete agreement between the prophecies of Isaiah and Daniel, and the words of the Lord Jesus. Our Lord, however, is more specific. Isaiah had associated the resurrection with the conversion of Israel, the Coming of Jehovah, and the inauguration of the Messianic Age of blessedness for all peoples. Daniel linked it with the overthrow of Antichrist, the close of the Great Tribulation, and the deliverance of living Israel from the last great struggle. Our Lord associates it with the Last Day of the pre-Messianic Age, which is the same thing. Well does Meyer say: "It is the first resurrection that is meant (see on Luke 14:14, 20:34 Phil. 3:2; 1 Cor. 15:23), that to the everlasting life of the Messianic Kingdom." (On John 6:39; italics his.)

The true sense of the phrase "the last day" is also given by Bullinger in his Apocalypse. "Martha expressed her belief in the resurrection ‘at the last day’ (John 11:24); i.e., the last day, at the end of the present age, and immediately before the introduction of the new age of the thousand years" (p. 621).

It is important to bear in mind, as Plummer in his Matthew has said, that "the Jews divided time into two ages, the Messianic Age, and that which preceded it" (p. 180). This was a fundamental idea of Hebrew eschatology; and it was adopted by our Lord and His Apostles.[3] Our Lord, for example, in speaking of those who have left home, and relatives, and possessions for the sake of the Kingdom, observes that even "in this present time" they receive much more than they lose, whilst "in the world (age) to come" they shall receive life everlasting (Mark 10:30). Here, as frequently in the Gospels and Epistles, the pre-Messianic Age is contrasted with the Age of the Kingdom.

Now our Lord teaches us in His discourse on the Bread of Life that the resurrection of His people—not merely of the faithful in Israel, but of all who believe in His Name, and feed upon Him by faith-will take place "at the last day." And having regard to His fundamental ideas on Eschatology there can be no doubt that "the last day" is the closing day of the Age that precedes the Messianic Kingdom of glory. This is the conception of the Prophets: Jehovah comes; Antichrist is slain; Israel repents; the sleeping saints rise; the Kingdom comes in power. It is the last day of this present evil Age, the first of the Age to come. This is also the doctrine of Christ, except that the resurrection now embraces those that the Father has given to Him, and have life through His name.

It may be contended that the Lord was referring to the last day of the Dispensation or age of the Church, which, ex hypothesi, ends some years before the end of "this present age." But this suggestion will not bear examination. First, when the Lord delivered the discourse on the Bread of Life not a word had been spoken by Him about the "Church." Indeed, it is pre-tribs who tell us that the revelation concerning the "Dispensation of the Church" was held back for Paul to disclose. How, therefore, can Christ’s words about "the last day" be applied to a dispensation that, as the theory itself presupposes, was only revealed later? Secondly, the term "dispensation of the Church" is not a Scriptural expression, and, as used by the objector, assumes the very thing to be proved; namely, that "the last day" of the Church’s existence upon earth does not coincide with "the last day" of the pre-Messianic Age; whereas it is to be noted that even after revealing in his Epistles the calling of the Church, the Apostle Paul, like Christ, continues to employ the usual expressions of Hebrew eschatology—"this age" and "the age to come."[4] In Ephesians 1:21,[5] when dwelling on the exaltation of the Head of the Church, he says that the Name of Christ has been exalted above every name that is named, "not only in this age, but also in that which is to come"; that is, as Meyer says, above every name "named in the present world-period, before the Parousia, and in the future one, after the Parousia." Paul, no less than our Lord, knows nothing of an intermediate period intervening between the resurrection of the saints and the Messianic Age.

In view, therefore, of the fact that our Lord speaks of only two dispensations in time —"this present age" and "the age to come" —we are bound to conclude that "the last day" in His thought was the closing day of this present evil Age, when Israel shall be saved, and the righteous dead raised, as the Prophets Daniel and Isaiah had already taught.

Some may object that the expression "last day" refers not to a literal day, but to the last period of God’s dealings with men in time; that is, to the age of the kingdom, which follows this present age, and will extend to the Last judgment, when the rest of the dead are raised. Something might be said in favor of this, for Peter has a saying that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years; and the Day of the Lord in the 0ld and New Testaments sometimes refers, not only to the day when Messiah comes in glory, but also to the period of His Reign.[6] But even this admission does not help the objector, for on his theory the resurrection belongs in time to "this present age," a decade or a generation before the Day of the Lord begins.

The authors of a recent work[7] assert that "the last day" is a prolonged period, "covering more than a thousand years," which opens with the resurrection and rapture of believers, and closes with the resurrection and judgment of those who have not accepted Christ and includes the Millennium which intervenes. It is not "the end of the world," vulgarly so called, but the last day, or period, of man’s accountability to God in his condition as a fallen being.

What proof is offered of these astonishing assertions? None except the requirements of their program of the End. Their scheme requires it; therefore it is so. But two considerations will show how flimsy it is. First, even on Darbyist presuppositions, the interval from the Rapture to the Last judgment is not one period, but most certainly two: the first, from the Rapture to the Day of the Lord, is of unknown length; some think that it will be a trifling epoch of three and a half years, others seven, still others seventy, whilst Anderson asserts that the Scriptures will still harmonize if the period should last for a thousand years; the second, the kingly rule of Messiah, which lasts for a millennium. And these two periods are also two distinct Dispensations: the one, when the Holy Spirit is retired to heaven,[8] at the Rapture, to let in a flood of lawlessness, issuing in the triumph of evil; the other, that of God’s sovereignty, when His will shall be done on earth as it is done in heaven, the glorious Parousia of the Son of Man forming the nexus of the two Dispensations. More astonishing still than this jumble is the attempt to fasten on our Lord the belief that "the last day" comes, and with it the rise and triumph of Antichrist, terrible persecution for His saints, and deeper distress than Israel has ever known. We may be sure that our Lord never believed that. Everywhere in His thought this evil Age gives place to His Reign.

If we adhere to the simple terminology of our Lord and Paul about "the last day," "the present Age," and "the coming Age," all will be plain, and we shall be saved at the very outset from the danger of getting lost in a labyrinth of dispensational traditions, which lose nothing by comparison with the refinements of the Rabbis.

(2) Luke 20:34-36.

Here again in the clearest manner "that age" —the age to come—is contrasted with "this age" —the Age that now is. Here are the two great divisions of Hebrew eschatology: the present Age of Gentile dominion, Jewish subjection, and civilization without God; and that Age, when the dead shall be raised and the Kingdom introduced by the Messiah. It is these two ages that our Lord has in mind. In this present Age mortal men marry and give in marriage. But they who are counted worthy of the future Age marry not, for they become sexless as the angels, being sons of God and sons of the resurrection. It is important to note the order of the words "they that are accounted worthy to attain to that age, and the resurrection from the dead" —not "the resurrection from the dead, and that age;" but first, the Messianic Age, then the resurrection. The resurrection of the just is the first result of the Messianic reign.

This passage is in exact accordance with the one last considered —"I will raise him up at the last day." For, just as the last note of one octave is the first note of the next, so the last day of this present Age is the first of the Messianic Age to follow.

Some theorists have sought to escape from this difficulty by assuming that the Lord was here speaking of "a resurrection age." If they mean by this that the future Age of the Kingdom will be introduced by the resurrection of the righteous dead they are enunciating a scriptural truth—a truth, moreover, that subverts the new system, in that it links the resurrection of the saints with the Messianic Age,[9] whereas the system separates them by several years, and interposes the frightful triumph of lawlessness and Antichrist through the removal, ex hypothesi, of the Holy Spirit to heaven. But what they mean us to understand is that "the resurrection-age," as they conceive of it, will begin with the resurrection of the sleeping saints of Israel and the Church before the Seventieth Week, and include the later resurrection of the saints martyred in the tribulation, subsequent to that prior resurrection. But this is fallacious. First, it sets Christ in opposition to Isaiah and Daniel, who locate the resurrection of Israel’s faithful dead at the Day of the Lord. Secondly, the suggestion proceeds upon a complete blunder regarding the meaning of the expression "that age." As we have seen, it refers to the future Messianic Age, or, as we should say, to the millennium. Our Lord speaks of those who are counted worthy to attain to, or have part in, the Messianic Age and the resurrection from the dead. The "age" is not a period covering a supposed series of resurrections, the first of which occurs within this present evil age, but the well-known Age of the Kingdom, which follows the Great Tribulation. And the addition of the words "and the resurrection from the dead" makes this doubly sure, by indicating that the resurrection is a result of the coming of the Kingdom. When our Lord comes, then the Kingdom and the resurrection come too.

Plummer in ICC (International Critical Commentary) on Luke remarks that our Lord used the expression "those accounted worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection," with a view to correcting "the assumption that all the sons of this world will enter the Kingdom which begins with the resurrection;" and he then adds: "The expression ‘that age’ in itself implies resurrection; but, inasmuch as this is the doctrine in dispute, the resurrection is specially mentioned" (p. 469).

(3) Matthew 13:43.

These words are the conclusion to our Lord’s interpretation of the Parable of the Tares, which we shall examine in all its bearings in a later chapter. It will suffice for the present to indicate its harmony with the prophecies of Isaiah, Daniel, and the Lord Jesus, on the time of the resurrection.

It was a saying of one of the most devout of Darbyist teachers that when he found a text of the O.T. cited or referred to in the N.T. he felt as if the Holy Spirit had put a lamp into his hand, wherewith to explore afresh the earlier revelation; "and having learned all he could by that light, he often traveled back with his lamp in his hand to the N.T. again, and re-read that which was written there, by the light he had gathered from the Old."[10] Now if we follow this excellent example in the case of Matthew 13:43, and Daniel 12:3, we shall have no doubt that the Lord is expounding Daniel, and setting forth the transfiguration of the risen saints at the resurrection; that He is "conveying the idea of a sublime display of majestic splendor, of the glory of the righteous in the future Kingdom of the Messiah. Comp. Daniel 12:3" (Meyer, N.T. Commentary).

The passage contains another statement of the time of the resurrection. It is to take place at that time, that is, at the time when notorious sinners and stumbling-blocks are rooted out of the Kingdom (vv. 41-42); the transfiguration of the risen saints takes place simultaneously with the destruction of the ungodly at the Advent.

We are not to suppose that the saints had been transfigured a generation before and concealed in heaven, but, as Alexander McLaren beautifully says:[11]

(4) Luke 14:14-15.

A fourth-indeed the classic-passage on the resurrection of the just occurs in Luke 14:14, where the Lord, just before relating the Parable of the Great Supper, remarks: "and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just."

This passage in itself furnishes no information concerning the relative time of the resurrection; but, taken in connection with what follows, it supplies a decisive consideration; for when Christ spoke of the first resurrection, one of His hearers exclaimed: "Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God" (v. 15). This shows how unmistakably the resurrection of the holy dead in Israel was linked with the coming of the Messianic Kingdom. As Meyer has it:

Bullinger in his Ten Sermons says: "This man evidently connected the ‘resurrection of the just’ with the entering into and the establishment of the Kingdom" (p. 153).

Anyone who has thought independently on this subject, and filled his mind with the conceptions of the Prophets and our Lord on the Last Things, must be forced to the conclusion that there is something fundamentally wrong with a program of the resurrection that, far from introducing the age of peace, renewal, and righteousness for living Israel, will rather presage her entrance upon the times of Antichrist. No Hebrew would sponsor such a view. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews settled this matter once for all when he penned the words: "And when He again bringeth in the firstborn into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him."[13] Westcott’s commentary on Hebrews gives the background and the true meaning:

And if we may say that the new program of the End is repugnant to Hebrew tradition and ideals, it is noteworthy that, though the last hundred years have produced many eminent Hebrew Christians, not one of them has embraced the scheme under examination. The works of Adolph Saphir are deservedly held in high esteem by all well-read Darbyists; yet, though those writings reveal that Saphir was a close student of Darby, and was open to his better influence, he rejected his view of the End. Here are two relevant passages, which we cannot refrain from quoting:[14] "At the coming of the Lord to establish His Kingdom, the dead who are asleep in Jesus, as well as the saints who are then living, will be gathered to receive from their Lord the recompense of the reward." Again:

Assurance, or fullness of hope (Cf. Col. 2:2; 1 Thess. 1:5; Heb. 10:22), means a living, constant and firm expectation of the coming of our Lord ‘Jesus, who will give rest and glory unto all who wait for Him. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. By hope we anticipate the future blessedness and thus live in the power of heavenly realities, influenced by the promised reward. Thus the apostle, who so clearly teaches us that we have been saved by grace through faith, also teaches that we are saved by hope; we wait for the adoption, that is the redemption of the body. In this patient waiting we are the followers of the O.T. saints. They also from Abraham, to whom God confirmed the promise by oath, looked unto the same advent of Messiah which we are awaiting. The fathers, who pertained specially to the Hebrews (Rom. 9), cherished the same hope, which was more fully revealed by the gospel, and which, therefore, we should hold fast with greater steadfastness and joy.

Chapter 3 Endnotes:

[1] Simcox (CGT on Revelation) cites a similar saying:” where the literal sense will stand, that furthest from the letter is the worst.”

[2] The expression “last day” occurs again in John 12:48, but it is of significance that nothing is said of resurrection. It refers to the generation of unbelievers who survive to the advent, which is viewed as near.

[3] In reference to the pre‑Messianic period the following terms are used:­

    (a)           The age; Matthew 13:22, 39, 40, 49; 24:3; 28:20; Mark 4:19.

    (b)          This age; Matthew 12:32; Luke 16:8; 20:34; Rom. 12:2; 1: Cor. 1:20; 2:6-8; 3:18; 2 Cor. 4.4; Eph. 1:21.

    (c)           This time; Mark 10:30 Luke 18:30.

    (d)          The time that now is; Rom. 8:18; 11:5.

    (e)           The age that now is; 1 Tim. 6:17; 2 Tim. 4:10; Titus 2:12.

    (f) This present age; Gal. 1:4.

In reference to the future Messianic Age the following are used

    (a)           That age; Luke 20:35.

    (b)          The coming age; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30.

    (c)           The future age; Matthew 12:32; Heb. 6:5; Eph. 1:21. Cf. Heb. 2:5, “the habitable‑world which is to come.” See Dalman, Words of Jesus, p. 147 ff.; Saphir, Hebrews 1, Lecture 5. In the former work a great Talmudic scholar informs us; in the second a great Hebrew Christian.

[4] See References above.

[5] R.V. mg., Moffatt, Weymouth.

[6] See chapter 12, where the view of A. B. Davidson and others is quoted.

[7] Touching the Coming, by Hogg and Vine (p. 159).

[8] These writers, it is fair to say, disbelieve in the removal of the Holy Spirit at the Rapture (Thessalonians, pp. 258‑9), but their position is a novelty in the school.

[9] This is Trotter’s view: pp. 447‑8, “Were this (Luke 20:34‑6) the only passage on the subject, it seems to us decisive... as to its being at the commencement of an age or era on which the character of resurrection is stamped: as our Lord says,  ‘that age.’” Admirable!

[10] J. G. Bellett, cited by Bland, p. 138.

[11] Matthew 2 p. 243. Cf. Bengel: “They shall not burn as the ungodly, but they shine forth singly, and much more, collectively. What can be sweeter, even to think of, than this?” (E.T.).

[12] So Edersheim, (Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah) vol. 2., p. 249; Godet, Luke, vol. 2, p. 135, and others.

[13] Darby, the author of a new program of the End—a secret, pre‑tribulation Parousia, followed by the rise of Antichrist, was bound to resist the reference to the approaching advent. See his notes to the New Translation. But, grammar apart, the reference to Psalm 97, a Kingdom Psalm, is decisive for students of prophecy that the Day of The Lord is in view in Hebrews 1:6. Saphir says the Psalm has no reference to the first Advent, but to Jehovah’s coming to subdue His enemies and be the rejoicing of His people (vol. 1., p. 90). Nairne (Cambridge Bible) says the usage of this Epistle favors “Whenever he brings again.” The idiomatic translations of Conybeare and Howson, Isaacs (1933), Way (1926), Wade (1934) agree with Goodspeed and the American and English revisers.

[14] The first quotation is from The Lord’s Prayer (pp. 187‑8) the second from Hebrews, vol. 1, p. 330; two golden works.


We now come to consider the testimony of Paul’s Epistles on the epoch of the resurrection of the saints. So far we have found that the Prophets and the Lord Jesus Christ locate the resurrection at the inauguration of the Messianic Kingdom, whereas pre-tribs bring it forward by a considerable period of time. Are the Epistles in harmony with the earlier revelations? Let us see.

(a) Romans 11:15.

In this chapter the Apostle demonstrates that the apostasy of Israel is neither total nor final. Many believe in Jesus as Messiah; and Israel as a nation shall be finally saved. Here, in verse 15, Paul links the conversion of Israel with the first resurrection.

It should be admitted that the other view—of an awakening among the Nations at the conversion of Israel—has something to commend it, but the present writer agrees with those who find in the text the idea stressed by Darby, Kelly, and Trotter, that, when Israel repents, the saints are raised.

Eighty years ago two outstanding commentators in Germany were Meyer and Hofmann, who often differed in their view of a difficult text, the former being severely grammatical, whilst the latter brought to it a singularly original mind, and a comprehensive grasp of the Scriptures as a whole. Yet on Romans 11:15, they agreed that it referred to the resurrection. Godet objected to this, saying that these expositors were to be most distrusted when they were in agreement! But the verdict has gone against Godet, the graver commentaries in Germany and Britain[1] increasingly following the lead of the two great rivals in N.T. exposition, namely: that Paul is following Isaiah and Daniel in linking the renewal of Israel with the Kingdom and the resurrection.

(b) 1 Corinthians 15:50-54.

Here is the highest and most glorious revelation in Scripture concerning the resurrection and transfiguration of the saints. It occurs as the climax of the long chapter on the resurrection of Christ and the holy dead. Our only concern, however, is to know if we can find any clue to guide us in our inquiry concerning the time of the resurrection. Other aspects of this chapter will come before us later; at present this one suffices.

Is there any clue to guide us? Yes, a very decided one; and one that for open minds will settle the whole controversy. Paul not only describes the resurrection and transfiguration of the saints: he emphatically indicates the time for the fulfillment of these wonderful events. Here are his words: "So WHEN this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, THEN shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’" (v. 54).

Nothing could be clearer than the Apostle’s argument here. The resurrection and transfiguration of the faithful dead will take place in fulfillment of an O.T. prophecy. This occurs in Isaiah 25:8, which we have already considered. Now if, to use Bellett’s illustration, we go back to Isaiah, using the lamp that Paul has furnished us with, what do we find? Why, that the resurrection of the saints, and the victory over death, synchronize with the inauguration of the Theocratic Kingdom, the Coming of Jehovah, and the conversion of living Israel. Following are Isaiah’s words (25:6-9 R.V.): "And in this mountain shall the Lord of Hosts make unto all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined." Here we have the inauguration of the Kingdom under the figure of a banquet. "And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering that is cast over all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He hath swallowed up death for ever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces." Here we have the resurrection, which, according to Paul, includes the raising of Christians.

Beautifully does Dr. Wheeler Robinson say in his essay in The Study Bible: "We seem to see the great King rising to greet the long procession of suffering and sorrowing humanity, which wears the veil of the mourner. His royal hand removes the veil and wipes away the tears, and destroys their cause for ever" (p. 121). Again: "And the reproach of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it" (Isa. 25:8).

This gives us the rehabilitation of Israel, long put to shame before the Gentiles by their age-long dispersion, and apparent abandonment by Jehovah. Again: "And it shall be said in that day, ‘Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation’" (Isa. 25:9). Here we have the repentance and conversion of Israel at the Coming of Jehovah.

It will be seen, therefore, that Paul, so far from detaching the resurrection from the Kingdom, and the conversion of Israel, takes his stand with Isaiah, Daniel, and the Lord Jesus Christ, in linking them up inseparably. In the very act of revealing new truth about the Christian hope he shows that the theory of his holding to a special coming and resurrection "for the Church" is the veriest fiction: The Coming of Jehovah Jesus is the hope of both Israel and the Church.

Further confirmation that Paul linked the resurrection with the Kingdom is furnished by the context of our passage in 1 Corinthians. In verse 50 he says: "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."

That is, kingly rule in the Future Age is not for mere human nature, but for the new humanity in the Last Adam, who is a quickening Spirit. Hence he proceeds to deal with the resurrection and transfiguration of the saints: transfiguration essential for kingly rule—this is the secret truth now revealed.

The reader may ask what explanation pre-tribs give of this fundamental difficulty in 1 Corinthians 15:54, and how they attempt to reconcile their theories with this Scripture. As a rule they have nothing to say about it; they pay it the perpetual compliment of leaving it alone; or it is one of those "details" that it is inexpedient to inquire about, though usually a craving for the least detail of the End-time characterizes the school. Especially was this reluctance seen in dealing with pre-millennial colleagues like Tregelles and B. W. Newton, who, with inconvenient persistence, pointed out the grave discrepancy between the new scheme of the End, and the plain teaching of Isaiah 25:8 and 1 Corinthians 15:54. So far as I am aware, no pre-trib writer has ever honestly faced the question. One is reminded of a story recorded by Plutarch (quoted by Provost Salmon), that when Pericles was puzzling himself what account of his expenditure he should give the Athenian people he got the advice from Alcibiades that it would be wiser to study how he could avoid giving any account at all. When, however, the advocates of the new theories were arguing, not with fellow pre-millennialists, but with postmillennialists like David Brown and Agar Beet, they forgot themselves, and used arguments that were a complete negation of the position they maintained against all orthodox pre-millennialists since earliest times. I have already cited the case of Kelly, who, by stating that the resurrection in Isaiah 25 "synchronizes with the deliverance of Israel," gave away the whole case for the new theories of the Parousia. I wish now to cite the case of Darby. One would scarcely have expected him to expound a crucial passage in a manner that subverted his entire scheme of the prophetic future. Yet such is the case. It is not a little remarkable, and will astonish some. In his Second Coming he writes as follows in seeking to prove that the Advent must be pre-millennial:

Sound doctrine! Yet every word of it is a complete refutation of theories telling us that the resurrection does not synchronize with the millennium and the conversion of Israel, but precedes them by a period of from seven to seventy, if not hundreds of years—for there is not the slightest certainty or even knowledge on the question—and that this period is characterized by increasing lawlessness, and Israel’s reception of Antichrist.

Trotter also makes the same damaging admission. Commenting on 1 Corinthians 15:54 (Plain Papers on Prophetic Subjects), he remarks on the word "then:" "Not ‘eita’ as in verse 24, but ‘tote,’ the literal and uniform meaning of which is, at that time." He then continues:—

On the same text, Kelly says in his Second Coming: "It appears on apostolic authority that the epoch of the resurrection of the righteous is bound up with the return and deliverance of Israel, as well as with the millennial blessing of all nations" (p. 57).

This is the very point that we are contending for!

We leave this passage in Corinthians, therefore, authorized by Darby, Kelly, and Trotter, to believe that Paul, like Isaiah, Daniel, and the Lord Jesus Christ, locates the first resurrection at the Day of the Lord, that is, at the close of the apocalyptic Week.

(c) 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (R.V.).

We now come to the passage that, more than any other, is relied upon by pre-tribs to prove that the saints are raised some considerable time before the Day of the Lord. It reads as follows:

Only one consideration will occupy us here: what evidence does it afford us in our search to find the time of the first resurrection? The singular thing is that beyond the elementary fact of its occurring at the Advent, the passage in itself furnishes no evidence whatever upon the point. Without anticipating topics to be raised later, it may be said here that the passage under consideration does not pretend to be an exhaustive description of the Parousia, even as it concerns the Church; for there is no mention of the transfiguration of the living saints, nor even of the risen; no mention of the judgment-seat of Christ, and the rewarding of the saints; none of the marriage-supper of the Lamb. Still less does the passage aim at describing the Last Things in general. The Apostle is concerned with one, and only one aspect of the Advent, and that is the relation of the sleeping to the surviving saints when the Lord comes. The Thessalonians feared that the dead whom they mourned would be at a disadvantage at the Parousia. Paul shows by the Spirit of God that, if anything, they will have the advantage, since the Lord will raise them first at His Coming, and only then will the living believers be caught up with them to meet the Lord.

Admirably does Canon Faussett say in his commentary (Second Advent):—

So far, therefore, as this passage in 1 Thessalonians is concerned, we are not told when the resurrection will take place relative to the Seventieth Week of Daniel. If one thinks that the resurrection will take place centuries before the apocalyptic Week sets in, there is nothing in the passage to contradict it. If, as Newberry and others taught, one believes that the Lord will come at the beginning of that Week, or, with others, in the middle of it, there is likewise nothing in this passage to discourage us. For a similar reason there is nothing against the view that I am contending for, namely: that the first resurrection takes place subsequent to the Week, namely: at the Day of the Lord. This section in 1 Thessalonians 4 simply does not deal with the question; indeed, there is nothing in the text to show that the resurrection is even a premillennial one; this must be learned from other Scriptures.

And even if we admit, for argument’s sake, that the "Coming" here referred to concerns the Church alone, this does not prove that the resurrection must take place before the apocalyptic Week; for it might take place subsequent to that week, and still concern the Church alone. Only by referring to other Scriptures can the point be determined, for 1 Thessalonians 4 is silent upon it. Such suggestions will be irksome to those who always find what they want in a text; others will recognize their reasonableness.

So much for negative reasoning based upon this isolated text. When, however, we turn to other Scriptures—for, as Peter tells us, "no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation" (2 Pet. 1:20), we are not left in doubt upon the matter: Pre-tribs themselves furnish us with reasons that smash their central position. They all admit, in the first place, that this resurrection in 1 Thessalonians 4 includes the resurrection of all the righteous dead since Abel; this is a fundamental point in the scheme. Very well then, this means that 1 Thessalonians 4 synchronizes with the resurrection in Isaiah 25:8, 26:19, Daniel 12:1-3, 12-13, Matthew 13:43, Luke 14:14, 20:35, and John 6:39, 40, 44, 54. and 11:24-25. And we have already proved that these passages clearly locate the resurrection of the saints in Israel at the commencement of the Messianic Kingdom, when Antichrist is destroyed, and Israel is converted by the appearing of Jehovah. The whole Darbyist case collapses, therefore, before their admission that 1 Thessalonians 4 includes the raising of the O.T. saints.

The theorists admit, in the second place, that this resurrection in 1 Thessalonians 4 is identical with the one in 1 Corinthians 15:50-57. This admission also destroys their whole position, for we have just seen—with the concurrence of Darby, Kelly, and Trotter—that Paul, following Isaiah 25:8, locates the resurrection of the saints at the beginning of the kingly rule of Christ, when Israel is converted.

What, therefore, but the exigencies of a mistaken system of prophetic interpretation could have led these same writers, and a thousand-and-one followers, to enounce a set of theories that proceed upon the presupposition that the first resurrection does not coincide with Israel’s conversion, but precedes it by about a generation; does not synchronize with the establishment of Israel in Zion, but rather with the beginning of their troubles under Antichrist; does not introduce the times of refreshing for all nations, but the times of Antichrist, and the darkest night that Israel and the nations have ever seen?

(d) 1 Corinthians 15:21-26.

Still another passage in 1 Corinthians calls for comment in any examination of the new theories of the Parousia. Anyone who has immersed himself in pre-trib prophetic literature knows that a vital part of their scheme of the End is the program of the resurrection. It is as follows:—

(1) The resurrection of the redeemed at the Advent according to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17.

(2) The resurrection of an immense multitude of saints, converted and martyred after the resurrection and Rapture, just mentioned. This takes place several years after the former one, namely: at the Day of the Lord.

(3) The resurrection of the rest of the dead at the conclusion of the millennium.

Let us test this by the teaching of the Apostle Paul; we quote from Weymouth’s version,[2] not only for its greater faithfulness to the Greek at one or two important points, but for its happy illumination of some difficult sayings. It undoubtedly represents the attitude of modern scientific exegesis toward this passage of Scripture:

Here is a passage where the great Apostle is dealing expressly with "the resurrection of the dead:" not merely of the righteous, but of the totality of the human race. Through Adam death passed upon all men; through Christ the whole human race shall be raised. And the Apostle even gives us the program of the resurrection:

1. Christ the first-fruits.

2. The redeemed, at Christ’s Coming to establish His kingly rule.

3. The End, when the rest of the dead are raised, at the close of Christ’s kingdom and His delivering the sovereignty to God the Father. Increasingly Lietzmann’s view is being followed that "End" means "Rest" or "Remainder."

Allowing for differences on details the great commentators of Germany[3] are finding "in the passage a resurrection of the saints at the beginning of Christ’s Kingdom, and another at its close, in substantial agreement with John in the Apocalypse, chapter 20. One cannot fail to see that the interpretation is ruinous to Darby’s scheme; not a word is said about the resurrection of a special class of "tribulation" saints, seven years or more after the Coming, when the redeemed are raised. If Paul entertained any such notion, here was the appropriate place to say so, for he is distinguishing the classes in the resurrection of the whole human race.

According to Scofield, in his Bible Correspondence Course, the visions of Revelation 7 warrant the belief that, before the End, "the overwhelming majority" of the inhabitants of the earth will be converted to God by the preaching of the 144,000 Israelites. And the vision of 7:9-17 makes it absolutely certain that they are martyrs awaiting the resurrection of 20:4-6. Very well then, we are asked by pre-tribs to believe that the Holy Spirit, in giving the precise classes, and the order of the resurrection, passed over this immense company of martyrs, who, according to the theorists, rise several years or decades after 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, and "those that are Christ’s" in 1 Corinthians 15:23. To uninfatuated readers the suggestion is utterly incredible.

The only reason why Paul did not introduce another resurrection of saints after that of Christians was because he knew of no such special and separate resurrection. He knew of only one "out"—resurrection, only one harvest, that of Christ’s people at His Arrival.[4] And he further precludes the idea of a second "first" resurrection by locating the resurrection of the Church itself at the beginning of the Messianic Kingdom. Darby, Kelly, and Trotter, all bore witness to this, as we saw a moment ago.

We leave the consideration of Paul’s Epistles,[5] therefore, with the conviction that he, like Isaiah, Daniel, and the Lord Jesus Christ, locates the resurrection of the saints at the Day of the Lord, when Israel is converted, and the Kingdom is set up in power.

Excursus To Chapter IV: Dr. E.W. Bullinger's Scheme Of The Saint's Resurrection

Into the wild dispensational theories of Dr. Bullinger it is not my intention to enter; one must draw the line somewhere in investigating the labyrinth of prophetic fads and theories. Anyone who has read Ten Sermons on the Second Advent (in many respects a valuable book), The Apocalypse or The Day of The Lord, The Church Epistles, The Mystery, The Companion Bible, and the "Questions and Answers column of his magazine "Things to Come" (London), knows that the most destructive critic of Bullinger’s theories on prophecy, the Church, and N.T. literature was Bullinger himself. Today he would give out a set of novelties with the recommendation, "They are not mere sentiments or opinions. They are the subjects of Divine revelation." Tomorrow (or the day after) the novelties would be forgotten, and another worthless set given out in their place. And all was paraded with immense dogmatism as the offspring of a new and superior enlightenment unattained by any of the great expositors of the Church. The author’s method and spirit recall Franz Delitzsch’s characterization of Ewald, the famous O.T. scholar:

Bullinger saw very clearly that the OT., and our Lord, had located the resurrection of the saints at the Day of the Lord, not a generation before it. He also saw that that fact was fatal to the pre-tribs view of the prophetic future. Instead of abandoning it as unscriptural, he would save it by a line of defense that had hitherto passed the wit of man to devise. Here it is. When Paul gave the order of the resurrection in the well-known words (1 Cor. 15:23), "Christ the first-fruits, afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming. Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God," there was more in what he said than appears on the surface; but Bullinger claims that he can see far into the millstone, and this is what he reads:—

"Christ the first-fruits;" this is not Christ the Lord, but Christ mystical, which includes all saints converted since Saul of Tarsus, who was the beginning of the Church, the body of Christ. These will be raised at the approaching advent of Christ, on Darbyist presuppositions.

"Afterward they that are Christ’s, at His Coming." These are O.T. saints, the Apostles, and others converted before Paul, and the "tribulation" saints of Revelation 7:9-17; these will all be raised at the Day of the Lord, a generation (more or less) after the mystical Body of Christ. It didn’t inconvenience Bullinger one little bit that in his revised scheme the "coming" of 5:23 synchronized with the "day" of the Lord; that was a trifling concession to the enemy.

What shall we say of this new-fangled scheme? Simply that it is so extremely singular that we should not waste a moment of time on it except that so good a student as Miss Ada Habershon, an outstanding teacher among pre-tribs toyed with it as a good defense of pre-trib views of the End. See Payables, p. 96: and "The Morning Star," August 15th, 1914.

A moment’s consideration will show that the positron is utterly untenable;

1. Paul himself interprets for us the expression, "Christ the first-fruits." It is the Lord Jesus Christ and none other. Here is what he says: "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept." That occurs but two verses before the verse that Bullinger wrests to his own confusion. Of course he passed it by as unworthy of notice.

2. The expression "they that are Christ’s," so far from being applicable merely to supposedly inferior saints like the O.T. worthies, the Apostles, the saints of the "Pentecostal Dispensation," and the martyrs of the End-time in Revelation 7:9-17, is applied again and again by the Apostle Paul to the saved of this dispensation. "If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal. 3:29). "They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh" (Gal. 5:24). See also 1 Corinthians 3:22-23, 1:12, 15:23; 2 Corinthians 10:7; cf. Mark 9:41.

Bullinger, be it noted, staked his scheme on a single verse of scripture, which is always a risky thing to do, for as sagacious old Benjamin Whichcote used to say, "If you have but one text in Scripture to support you, you will soon have none at all." But Bullinger’s attitude realized for us the wish of the ancient tyrant that all his enemies had but one neck, for with a single blow the whole contest would be won. That is what happens here. On the housetops Bullinger proclaimed that in the O.T. the saints are raised at the Day of the Lord that is the honest interpretation of Isaiah 25:8, 26:19; Daniel 12:2, 13. The Lord in Luke 15:14-15, 20:34-36, and John 6:39-54, 11:24; Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:54; and John in Revelation 11:15-18 and 20:4-6, confirmed the O.T. teaching. But Bullinger challenged us to a contest on the single text, 1 Corinthians 15:23: with ruinous results to himself, for Paul is against him at every step; ruinous also to the whole school.

Pre-trib writers as a rule think hardly of Bullinger. And naturally; by his damaging admissions he exposed the perilous condition of a pillar that supported their new and pretentious edifice, and, without laughing, offered to substitute a pillar of sand.

Some time ago a group of English-speaking people from England, America, and the overseas Dominions of the Empire, met at a Britisher’s residence in a South American Republic. During dinner the conversation turned to English politics, and a lively discussion ensued. As one of the speakers was monopolizing most of the time, it was decided to set up a Mock Parliament with a Speaker, who, watch in hand, would control the debate on Home Rule for Ireland. On ranging sides it was found that the leader of a historic English party had no followers. Thereupon the hostess, a woman missionary with a versatile turn of mind, and a keen sense of humor, changed sides so as to help the lonely leader in debate. But when it came to her turn to address the "House" she contrived to make so many inconvenient and damaging admissions that, before she was half-way through, the embarrassed leader was begging her to cross to the other side.

And regular pre-trib advocates, who smooth over a thousand difficulties in their program of the prophetic future by judiciously keeping silent on inconvenient texts, and hoping for the best, resent the perverse candor, even bluntness, with which Bullinger proclaimed that in the Prophets, Gospels, and the Apocalypse, as well as in 1 Corinthians 15:23 and 54, the resurrection of Israel’s holy dead, and of those "that are Christ’s," takes place at the Day of the Lord. Better a thousand times if he had held his peace, or crossed to the other side.

Chapter 4 Endnotes:

[1] Zahn, Sanday and Headlam, and many others.

[2] Second edition.

[3] So Lietzmann, J. Weiss, Bachmann, Bousset and Zahn. The interpretation goes back to Godet, Meyer and De Wette. In England Canon Evans, Peake, Teignmouth Shore, and others accept it. W. F. Howard says, “There is good reason to follow several recent commentators in taking 24a as meaning, ‘Then the rest, when He shall deliver up the Kingdom to God.’” (Abingdon Commentary.)

[4] On the word “parousia,” and a recent rabbinical attempt to save the new program by making it mean “presence,” the reader is referred to our chapter on the “coming.” There it is shown that the humblest Christian in the first century knew that the word meant the triumphant arrival of Messiah to put down all authority, and then reign. The petty kings and emperors had their Parousias and their Days, when on a visit to a town; our Lord and Emperor, Jesus the Messiah has His Day and His Parousia when He comes forth to vindicate God’s righteousness, plead the cause of His followers, and inaugurate the Age to come.

[5] The passage in Philippians (3:2) furnishes nothing to guide us in finding the time of the resurrection.


And if we deny that Paul was anticipating, even unconsciously, the last trumpet of the Apocalypse, it makes things worse for the theorists. They want us to believe that Paul called the resurrection trumpet (which is to sound, on their view, before the Seventieth Week) the last trumpet, when he must have known from Isaiah 27:13 and the words of Christ in Matthew 24:31, that one, if not two, trumpets of momentous consequence were to follow it; for it is obvious that those trumpets sound at the Day of the Lord.

These difficulties and contradictions pass away, however, when we see that Paul's last trumpet sounds on the Day of the Lord, and is therefore identical with Isaiah's, our Lord's, and John's, which do the same. We are warranted, therefore, in inferring from Revelation 11:15, that the seventh or last trumpet points to the resurrection from the dead.

It is objected again that this trumpet in Revelation 11 cannot be identical with that in Paul, because the former is a woe-trumpet, and the latter a trumpet of grace. But the real truth is that, alike in Paul and John, the Last Trumpet is both a trumpet of grace and a trumpet of woe. Towards the saved, it is a trumpet of grace. Certainly this is so in the Apocalypse. Otherwise, how can we account for the outburst of praise, joy and thanksgiving on the part of the Twenty-four Elders, who, pre-tribs tell us, represent the raptured saints?

The Elders in heaven rejoice over the sounding of the seventh trumpet, because it is obviously a trumpet of grace as well as woe. It finishes the mystery of God, and heralds the introduction of the Kingdom of Christ and of God, the resurrection, judgment, and rewarding of the saints, and the Coming of the Lord. If it is called a woe trumpet, it is only because of its effects upon the ungodly. In confirmation of this, I need only quote the words of F. W. Grant, a leading pre-trib scholar:

To the mere "dwellers upon the earth" the last or seventh trumpet brings woe indeed; but to the saints of God it brings that Coming and Kingdom which have been their hope and joy for ages past. Hence it is a trumpet of incomparable grace; hence the rejoicing of the elders in heaven.

(b) The resurrection is unquestionably implied by the expression "the time of the dead to be judged:" that is, the righteous dead only, for this book reveals that the unsaved dead are judged at the conclusion of the Messianic Kingdom, not at its beginning (Rev. 20:5, 11-14). The whole context proves, moreover, that only the prophets, saints and God-fearers, come within the scope of this judgment. The wicked dead are not so much as mentioned. Nor may the expression "the dead" be used to prove the contrary; for Paul himself uses the general expression "the dead" when he really means the righteous dead only. In the very chapter where he describes the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:42), he says, "so also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption;" but the context proves that he there means only the righteous dead, for the ungodly will not be raised "in incorruption." So also in verse 52: "In a moment in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible;" here he certainly means only the righteous dead.

Just so is it in Revelation 11:18;[3] we are told that it is "the time for the dead to be judged," yet the immediate context proves that only the righteous dead are in view; for at once we read: "And the time to give their reward to thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, the small and the great"  - prophets, saints and godly: the whole company of the redeemed; these and no others are raised from the dead at this time to be judged.[4]

A consideration of Romans 14:10-12 (R.V.) and 1 Corinthians 3:13-15, will show that Christians are to be judged, not in order to determine their salvation - for in this sense the believer cometh not into judgment (John 5:24) - but to determine and allot the reward of each, according to his life and service. And there can be no doubt that "the judgment of the dead" in Revelation 11:18, refers to the judgment of the people of God that follows their resurrection.

(c) The resurrection of the just is further presupposed in Revelation 11:I5-I8, because it is at this time that the reward is given to the prophets, the saints, and the godly. Theorists seek to evade this by telling us that, though the saints are judged and rewarded at this time, they are raised some years previously, that is, prior to the Seventieth Week of Daniel.[5] But this is untenable. First, how could such a judgment - taking place years and possibly generations after the resurrection - be called a judgment of "the dead?" If the judgment and rewarding take place immediately after the resurrection, then there is some fitness in the term. But a judgment of people who have been raised for an indefinite period - of at least seven years - would not be called a judgment of" the dead."

Secondly, Kelly's plea brings him into contradiction to his own scheme. In his Revelation he tells us that the Twenty-four Elders of the Apocalypse represent the saints of the O.T. and the Church of the New, raised, raptured, and glorified in heaven, before a single seal is opened or plague poured out; that is, they are seen as already judged and rewarded; for they are said to be robed, crowned, and enthroned - ideas that, if the Elders are human beings, or represent human beings, clearly betoken that they have already been rewarded; and yet, to save his theory of the resurrection in the presence of Revelation 11:18, Kelly tells us that the giving of rewards is to take place at the Revelation of Christ on the Day of the Lord. But he cannot have it both ways. It is clear that the theory is not only at variance with Scripture, but also with itself.

There is, however, a much more cruel exposure of the unscriptural character of the theory that the rewarding of the saints is separated from their resurrection by a period of years. I refer to the words of our Lord, "Thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just" (Luke 24:14). The new system is in open opposition to the words of Christ. It separates the giving of rewards from the resurrection by a period of years, whereas the Lord Jesus Christ joined them together.

Inasmuch, therefore, as Revelation 11:18 depicts the giving of rewards to the whole company of the redeemed, we may be sure that this also is the time of the resurrection of the just.

It is relevant to point out here how fatal is the language of Revelation 11:18 to a new version of the pre-trib scheme that has been issued in the last decade or so. Some theorists are now teaching - in contrast to the early leaders - that the saints will be rewarded and judged at the Coming, and not the Glorious Appearing of Christ.[6] In other words, they mean to say that, when the Lord comes "for the Church"  - before the Seventieth Week of Daniel - the saved will be rewarded immediately. This certainly obviates the difficulty of Luke 14:14. But whilst it is true that the saints are rewarded at the resurrection, it is utterly opposed to the passage in Revelation 11:18 to assert that they will be rewarded years and possibly generations before the Day of the Lord, as these writers assume. The words are clear, and it is impossible to evade them. The Elders burst out into thanksgiving, because the time for the inauguration of the Messianic Kingdom has come, and the time "to give their reward to thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, the small and the great" (R.V.). According to the theory, the prophets, saints, and God-fearers are rewarded years even before the first trumpet sounds; according to Scripture, they are judged and rewarded at the time of the seventh trumpet. Could contradiction be more hopeless? It will be objected that Revelation 11:18 refers only to the saints who, ex hypothesi, will arise after the Church has been raptured. But such a suggestion is inadmissible; for it means to say that "the prophets, the saints, and them that fear thy name" have no connection either with the Congregation of the O.T. or with the Church of the New! Such a preposterous suggestion need not detain us long. To take only one expression -  "thy servants the prophets." Can there be a doubt that the O.T. and N.T. prophets are here included? In Revelation 10:7 the same expression is used,[7] and its meaning is not doubtful: "But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared (evangelized) to his servants the prophets."

Here the O.T. prophets are undoubtedly included, and possibly those of the New. And there can be no doubt, if sound principles of exegesis are to guide us, that they are referred to in Revelation 11:18, which occurs in the same vision. This being so, the scheme breaks down; for it presupposes that "all the saved ones"  - including the O.T. prophets and saints - will have been judged and rewarded years before the seventh trumpet sounds; whereas it is the doctrine of our text that they are so judged at the Last Trumpet, on the Day of the Lord.

The only interpretation of Revelation 11:18 that avoids the difficulties and contradictions examined is that which combines the elements of truth in both schools of pre-trib advocates, to the exclusion of their errors. With Darby, Kelly, Trotter, and C. H. M. (Charles Henry Mackintosh), we must find here the giving of rewards to the whole company of the O.T. and N.T. saints; with Habershon and Anderson, we must associate this - as Christ so emphatically said - with "the resurrection of the just." It is at the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:18 that the saints of Luke 14:14 are raised to life and rewarded. Paul says the same in 1 Corinthians 15:52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16.

(d) The resurrection is presupposed in Revelation 11:15-18 because, in the fourth place, it is here that the Coming of the Lord takes place. In verse 17 the Elders sing: "We give thee thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, which art and which wast" (R.V.). The words "and art to come" are an interpolation, and are omitted by all modern editors and versions, including Darby's. The omission is of profound significance; for the expression ho erchomenos means "the Coming One," and its exclusion here, in contrast to Revelation 1:4; 1:8; and 4:8, is because God in Christ has now come. Prior to this, He was "the Coming One;" now He has actually come. The Last Trumpet brings us to the Coming of the Lord. The expression "The Coming One" is a favorite title for our Lord among advocates of pre-trib theories. Let them consider, therefore, when it is that the Coming One comes: it is not before, but after, the Seventieth Week of Daniel. That the title "the Coming One" was applied to Christ is indubitable. It was a well-known designation in Israel and the Church for the Messiah, our Lord. When John the Baptist sent his disciples to Christ, his query was "Art thou the Coming One?"[8] And more significant for our purpose is the occurrence of the phrase in Hebrews 10:37: "There is still but a short time, and then The Coming One will come, and will not delay."[9] A study of Mark 11:9; Luke 13:35; 19:38; Psalm 118:26; Daniel 7:73-I4, etc., will show what is meant.

We need have no hesitation then in affirming that Revelation 11:17 indicates that "the Coming One" comes at this point, and that, therefore, the resurrection of the saints takes place here.

Another proof that the Coming of the Lord Jesus takes place here - and not a generation earlier - is that the Lord Himself says: "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give each one according as his work shall be" (Rev. 22:12). The Lord's reward for His saints is with Him; that is, at His Coming He will reward the faithful.

(e) The resurrection of the saints is presupposed in Revelation 11:15-18, in the fifth place, because the Last Trumpet brings the inauguration of the Messianic Kingdom according to Isaiah 25:8; 16:19; Daniel 12:2-3, 13; John 6:39-54; Luke 14:14-15; 20:34; 1 Corinthians 15:50, 54.

I conclude our examination of the seventh trumpet in the words of one of the greatest living scholars, and the most eminent advocate of Pre-millennialism:

Into the millennarian controversy that long raged over this passage, it is unnecessary now to enter. The present volume presupposes that both resurrections - between which lies the thousand years' reign of Christ - are literal, and that any other interpretation is a violation of sound exegesis.

What concerns us at present, however, is merely to ascertain the time of this resurrection, relative to the Day of the Lord.

What conclusion can we draw from the vision in Revelation 20:1-6? Just this, that here we have the clearest refutation possible of the pre-trib system; for, according to those theories, the first resurrection is to take place at least seven years before the Day of the Lord and the millennium: some time even before the rise of Antichrist: according to this vision of the Apocalypse, the first resurrection takes place in immediate association with the destruction of Antichrist, and the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom. Thus we have exactly the same teaching as in all the earlier Scriptures.

The theorists plead that the O.T. saints, and the Church of the New, have already been raised prior to the Day of the Lord and this vision of the Apocalypse. The reply to this is simple. Not a word is said by John in the whole of the Revelation of any such resurrection. Nothing can be found of an earlier one, either here or in any other part of the Word of God. If such a prior resurrection was known to John - as the theory presupposes - then how is it conceivable that he would call this resurrection the first? John ought to have written: "this is the second resurrection; blessed and holy is he that hath part in the second resurrection." But that he wrote first resurrection will be proof to all candid readers that he knew of none before it.

It is contended by pre-trib writers that the first resurrection extends over a long period. It began with and includes the resurrection of those raised during our Lord's ministry; of Christ Himself; then - in the future - of the O.T. saints and N.T. Church at the "Coming;" and finally, of the "tribulation" saints at the beginning of the millennium. This is all very interesting; but may we not have some Scripture proof for it? Where do they read that the resurrection of Lazarus and others raised at the time of Christ began the first resurrection? For one thing, as Meyer and others have pointed out, we have no reason to suppose that the people so raised did not die again. Indeed, this is necessitated by the emphatic declaration of the Apostles that Christ - not Lazarus - was "the first-born from the dead."[13] Moreover, those then raised, were still in the image of the earthly. It will be otherwise at the first resurrection.

On Revelation 1:5, Abp. Trench remarks:[14]

Trench then quotes the apt remark of Alcuin: "He is therefore named the 'First-begotten' because all who rose before Him were about to die again."

We may therefore eliminate these cases of Lazarus and others raised in the past, for the simple reason that they are yet to rise in the first resurrection at the Last Day.

"But," our objector will insist, "you must admit in view of 1 Corinthians 15:20 and 23, that Christ's resurrection is connected with that of His people." Certainly it is a pledge or guarantee of the future resurrection of His people, but how does this prove that there are going to be two "first" resurrections in the future, separated by a generation?

If the resurrection of the saints is to take place at the Millennium, how can there be another "first" resurrection years after it, yet still at the beginning of the Millennium?

Having thus disposed of the sophistry that seeks to find a resurrection prior to the "first," let us consider further the words of the vision (Rev. 20:4-5). There are three distinct classes mentioned in the passage.

(a) First, there are those of whom John says: "I saw thrones and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them" (4a).

Who are these? The whole body of saints who live to see the Parousia at this time; they are transferred from earth to occupy thrones in the kingly rule of Christ; it is the Rapture of the survivors in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. It is not said that this class was raised from the dead; but simply that they took the thrones prepared for them. We have seen them suffering and enduring throughout the book; now they are seen as over-comers who inherit the sovereignty in the kingdom. It is here that they receive the Morning Star.

A decisive conclusion follows from the enthronement of the living saints at 20:4a; it is that Darbyist theories are excluded. These presuppose[15] that the heavenly redeemed, including those who survive to the Parousia, occupy their thrones and are glorified several years before the Millennium. We are to see all this in the Twenty-four Elders crowned and seated in chapter 4. But our passage locates the sitting upon thrones at the beginning of the Millennium. The language is clear and decisive on the point. John says: "I saw thrones;" obviously they were empty. Then he adds: "and they sat upon them;" that is, he sees a company in the very act of sitting down on their thrones. It is now, not a generation earlier, that the living saints are rewarded and ascend their thrones. Matthew 19:28, says the same thing of the Apostles, locating their enthronement at this very time.

(b) John mentions a second class that is honored at this time: "I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God" (R.V.).

(c) Thirdly, he speaks of "such as worshipped not the beast, neither his image, and received not the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand."

Of these two classes we read that "they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

It is contended by theorists that these two classes consist only of saints who are to be converted and martyred after the Church is removed to heaven;[16] they are those who die during, or just before, the Great Tribulation, and have no connection with the Church in Christ Jesus. There is some truth, but more error in these views. It is true that the third class consists of those who fall in the last Great Tribulation. Whether they have any connection with the Church, I leave for the present. But it is thoroughly wrong to limit the second class - those "that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and the word of God"  - to latter-day saints, martyred, as Grant says, "in the time of the seals." It is wrong to assert that this class includes no Christians, but is restricted to half-enlightened Jews and Gentiles raised a generation after the Church. The proof of this is simple the Church herself is not raised until this very time. Such is the doctrine of Christ, Paul, and of John in this very book (Rev. 11:15-18). Secondly, without raising questions to be fully discussed later, it is to be insisted, and strongly insisted upon, that "beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God" is a description, and a glorious description, of the martyrdom of a Christian. Unnumbered multitudes throughout the Church's history, including Peter and Paul, have been slain "for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God." It is here they rise.

As if to shut out once for all the theories that have been based upon this passage, John himself has interpreted it for us. In chapter 1:9, we read: "I John, your brother, and partaker with you in the tribulation and kingdom and patience, which are in Jesus, was in the isle called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (R.V.).

Here is the same expression, and it is applied by John the Apostle to himself. In his valuable work on The Seven Churches, Abp. Trench says:

Some have taught that "for the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus" in verse 9 means that John went to Patmos to receive the Revelation. Bullinger is characteristically dogmatic upon the point. But the idea is negated by the use elsewhere of the phrase dia ton logon (Rev. 6:9, 20:4; Matthew 13:21; Mark 4:17; Cf. 1 Peter 3:14; Col. 4:3; 2 Tim. 1:12). It can only mean "because of the word of God;" that is, his activity as a preacher was the cause of his banishment. Bullinger's denial of this banishment, in the interests of his wild theory that the Seven Churches of Asia were not yet in existence when John wrote the Revelation, and would only arise after the Rapture, need not detain us. When his exposition of the Apocalypse came out month by month in his magazine "Things to Come" (London), he was answered verse by verse on Revelation 2-3 by a giant among American prophetic students, Nathaniel West, and the refutation in "Watchword and Truth," month by month, was complete and crushing.

We may still be sure that "for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" explained the reason of John's tribulation in A.D. 96, and the death of martyrs at that time. They were slain, in a word, because they were Christians, that is, they adhered to Christ's teaching and God's word, even at the cost of their lives.

Equally certain is it, therefore, that the same expression in Revelation 20:4, must denote the same class of people.[17] To tell us that it means Christians in Revelation 1:9 and non or semi-Christians in Revelation 20:4 is to put an enormous strain on our credulity. No reasonable doubt can exist that when John says that he saw "the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God" come to life, he is meaning to depict the resurrection of all who, since the time of Christ, have been slain because of their Christian service and belief. Not one syllable requires us to restrict it to those slain in the time of the Seventieth Week. In contrast to those of the next class - who fall under Antichrist - this one contains the resurrection of all the martyrs slain throughout the history of the Church. And it is to be noted that it takes place at the beginning of the millennium, not several years or decades before it.

Under the Last Trumpet (Rev. 11:15-18) the government of the world had passed to our Lord, so that He should exercise it in His kingly reign. His first acts were to raise and reward the prophets the saints and the God-fearers - the whole company of the redeemed of both Old and New Testaments, and to destroy the destroyers of mankind. Nothing particular had been said of the Antichrist and the Prince of this world - the origo et foes - of the world's sorrow. The visions of Revelation 19:11-20:1-6 describe Antichrist's overthrow, and the binding of Satan, and the joy that comes to the world. Nothing also had been said in the earlier vision of the over-comers; nothing of those who had been faithful unto death. The vision of Revelation 20:1-6 does this. The blessedness of both is more particularly described; the survivors of the Great Tribulation sit upon thrones; it is what pre-tribs call" the Rapture." And the martyrs of all ages rise and become kings with Christ during His kingly rule.

Sir Robert Anderson is absolutely right when he says: "The facts and events brought before us in chapter 20:4 are but an episode within the far wider prophecy of chapter 21:15" ("Things to Come," vi., p. 101).

If it is borne in mind that the Last Trumpet, like the last seal (Rev. 8:1), and the last plague (Rev. 16:27), brings us up to the Day of the Lord (Rev. 19:7-11 ff.), and the inauguration of the Messianic reign (Rev. 20:1-6), and no farther, no doubt upon this point will remain. The first resurrection had already been described under the seventh or Last Trumpet; it embraced the whole of the redeemed that sleep, as well as the recompense of those who do not die before the Parousia.

It was an essential part of the Apostolic hope that all the saints would share the kingly rule of Christ at His Appearing and Kingdom. In 1 Corinthians 6:2, we read: "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" And the meaning has been well given by Plummer in the ICC on 1 Corinthians:

Before leaving the Book of Revelation and its doctrine of the saints' resurrection, it is necessary to examine an argument that is confidently put forward by pre-tribs to prove their theory of a resurrection of the holy dead, some years before the coming of Antichrist. It is drawn from the vision of heaven recorded in chapters 4-5 of the Apocalypse. Darby and other expositors contended that the Twenty-four Elders crowned and seated on thrones, represent the saints of Israel and the Church, who are raised, transfigured, and raptured at the Second Coming. As the Elders are seen in heaven before the opening of the seals, the blowing of the trumpets, and the outpouring of the vials, we are therefore to conclude that the Church will be raptured to heaven before the trials of the End-time.[19]

If the Twenty-four Elders represent the raptured saints in heaven before the Seventieth Week, why do we not see the saints themselves instead of twenty-four symbols? All pre-tribs admit that John was transported in spirit to the time that immediately precedes the Day of the Lord; to the time, moreover, when the Church, ex hypothesi, is already in heaven. Well, where is the Church? We do not see her, but simply twenty-four heavenly beings. It will not do to say that the Apocalypse is a symbolical book, because in every other case where John sees the saints in heaven he sees the saints themselves, and not merely symbols or representatives. In chapter 6:9-11 we see the souls of the martyrs slain before the End-time; in 7:9-17 the innumerable multitude of martyrs who fall in the last tribulation under Antichrist, and stand before the throne; in 15:2-3 those who had gained the victory over the beast and his image. Since, therefore, John in vision saw heaven when the Church, ex hypothesi, was already there, why did he not say," I saw the saints of the Rapture and the first resurrection?" Why is it that he sees only twenty-four individuals?

Even if we admit that the Twenty-four Elders symbolize redeemed beings, we can have no certainty whom they represent. Indeed, on this hypothesis, there are about as many interpretations as there are Elders. Some take them as symbolical of the Christian ministry; others of the Patriarchs and Apostles; yet others of the O.T. believers; others again of the disembodied spirits in heaven. How are we going to decide among the rival theories? John has nowhere expressed his preference for any of them; so that any symbolical interpretation must be guesswork. Even pre-tribs writers cannot agree among themselves. Newberry adopts the view that the Elders do not signify the Church at all, but are "symbolic representatives of the saints of the former dispensation from Adam and Abel to Pentecost" (p. 40). The Church which is Christ's Body this writer finds in the "four living creatures."

In view of all this uncertainty I venture to think that to build an imposing superstructure on the identification of the Twenty-four Elders is extremely precarious.

If the Twenty-four Elders represent the saints previously raised and raptured to heaven before the Great Tribulation begins, why is it that no mention is made of these events in the verses preceding the vision of the Elders? Is it reasonable to believe that the most momentous event in the whole history of the race - the Second Coming of Christ, followed by the resurrection of the sleeping saints, and their rapture, together with that of the surviving believers, should take place, and yet not a single syllable be recorded of it?

If the reader can persuade himself, as C.H.M. (p. 47) does, that "no one can understand the book of the Apocalypse who does not see this"  - the unrecorded coming - we cannot; for it compels us to believe that a volume that, as Burgh has said, is, "the book of the second advent," does not treat of the Second Advent at all, but of the third or fourth. The Secret Coming is so very secret, that John passes it over in silence. The Church is on earth in Revelation 2-3; the Twenty-four Elders are in heaven at chapter 4; therefore, argues the theorist, the Advent of Christ took place between the two!

It is amusing to read the explanations that pre-tribs give of the failure of John to record the Secret Coming and Rapture. One and all tell us that the Apocalypse is a "book of judgment," and, moreover, being "symbolical," does not lend itself to a plain declaration on the subject. "The judicial character of the Revelation," says Kelly in The Revelation Expounded, "excludes that wondrous act" (p. 84). Indeed, one gets the idea that if the Rapture had been recorded in Revelation our friends would have felt constrained to refer it to the Jewish Remnant, or some other company in their dispensational system. For to expect a clear statement of the Rapture of the Church in a book of prophecy and judgment, is not at all an appropriate thing. So it is gravely argued! Yet it is these same writers who clutch, like drowning men at a straw, at the mere change of John's viewpoint in Revelation 4:1 as a type of rapture, and with eagerness deduce a pre-tribulation rapture from the ascension of the Man-child (12:5), nineteen hundred years ago! At one time a rapture in Revelation is quite unsuitable; at another it is an absolute necessity!

"But," our friends insist, "if you do not admit a rapture at Revelation 4:1, then you must confess that a rapture cannot be found at all in the Apocalypse. It is not mentioned at 1:7; 11:17-18; 19:6-20; 20:1-6."

Well, if no mention is made in the Apocalypse of the Rapture, surely it is the part of a careful student to enquire whether the Christian hope is not portrayed under different imagery and expressions. And I reply that it is. If John does not describe the Rapture it is because his heart is indicting a far better matter; he is setting forth the real Christian hope, which is association with the King in His glory. To quote a pre-trib writer:

Such is the admission of a friendly writer; and if such a damaging concession is made from within the camp, what must be the sober truth from without? It is not merely that these writers have given the Rapture "a prominence and place that is not quite in accord with the prominence and place given it in the Scriptures," but that they have made a fetish of what is merely "an incident in the Coming;" of an incident, moreover, that has no prominence whatever in Scripture, since on this writer's own admission the Rapture is spoken of directly "once, and only once."

Christendom is like unto a man that was invited to go up a high tower that soared to heaven, five hundred cubits and ten, and from the pinnacle to see an expanse of fields wherein did move sheep, and oxen, and horses, and other beasts of the plain; and there was a pageant of waving grain, of trees and streams and landscapes, to make glad the heart of man; and behind was a chain of mountains over which the sun would rise on the morrow. Now that man, when he was told that the kingdom of nature was to be seen after a journey to the top, and that the going was thrilling, being a dull man, did lie awake at night, saying," Oh, the elevator!"

It is curious that pre-tribs, have not seen that, if the Rapture is our hope, as they insist, then we are forced to believe that Paul dealt with the Christian hope only in an odd verse or two in one Epistle, and the other Apostles in their writings never dealt with it at all. The glorious fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, where the highest glory of the redeemed is described, must henceforth be considered as not setting forth the Christian hope - as Bullinger latterly advocated - since it contains no reference to the Rapture. It is time that Bible students rid themselves of this obsession, and came to distinguish between the Christian hope and a "mere incident of the coming."

Here then is our reply to those who tell us that we ought to see a rapture of the Church at Revelation 4:1, since otherwise the Apocalypse does not refer to our hope: the Rapture is not our hope, but a mere "incident of the coming;" our hope is Christ the Lord (1 Tim. 1:1), and the heavenly glory that follows for His redeemed at the first resurrection. And these are so clear in the Apocalypse that he who runs may read.

At chapter 20:4-6, we read: "I saw thrones and they sat upon them." Who are these? Beyond all question the saints to whom the sovereignty has been promised. And foremost among them, as Zahn says,[21] will be "the congregation who live to witness His coming." It is "the saints transfigured at Christ's coming, who 'sit upon thrones.'"[22] No doubt this class will include the large number of believers who shall have died a peaceful death, but it is composed primarily of "those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:17). Here is the greatest misfortune of the whole system; the first resurrection is the grave of all the new theories of the Advent. The Apostle has condemned the new program by linking the first resurrection with the millennium; and for most people at least there can be no resurrection before "the first."

It is at Revelation 20:4, not 4:1, that the resurrection, rapture, and enthronement of the saints take place. An incidental point in support of this, and worth noticing, is that in Revelation 4:4, John, when he ascended to heaven, saw the Elders already in a sitting position on the thrones. There is no suggestion that the Elders had just sat down on them when John had the vision. From the language used they may have been there since the creation; whereas the theory requires that they should have taken their thrones simultaneously with John's arrival in heaven; for the Apostle's rapture, according to the theory, symbolized the Rapture of the saints whom the Twenty-four Elders are supposed to represent. In chapter 20:4, however, the Seer saw the redeemed transferred from their places here below to the thrones that God had prepared for them.

That the opinion should arise that the Twenty-four Elders represent the saints risen and raptured, is natural enough in view of the ancient readings of Revelation 5:9-10. For there we read the following song of the elders:

We are not left to the Elders of Isaiah 24:23 for help in identifying the four and twenty Elders on thrones. Paul makes reference[24] in two of his Epistles to angelic Lords or Rulers, who exercise authority in the heavenlies. In Ephesians he tells us that Christ has been exalted "in the heavenly sphere, above all the angelic Rulers, Authorities, Powers, and Lords;" and in Colossians the Apostle informs us that all things, "including Thrones, angelic Lords, celestial Powers and Rulers, have been created by Him and for Him."

Now whilst it may be true that the Apostle in Colossians shows a "spirit of impatience with this elaborate angelology," as Lightfoot puts it in his Colossians (p. 150), his references to them in Ephesians "show that he regarded them as actually existent and intelligent forces."[25] Why, therefore, when John came to describe the vision he had of heaven, should we be surprised to find twenty-four "thrones," occupied by angelic lords, who are yet in subjection to Christ? Indeed, we should rather be surprised, in view of other Scriptures, if he failed to mention them.

Bullinger, also, I believe, gives the true interpretation of the Elders in the following words, taken from his commentary on the Apocalyspe:

[1] On the 24 Elders see the section at the end of this chapter.

[2] 1 Corinthians 15:45, speaks of Christ as the last Adam, where there is only one previous-the first Adam.

[3] It is important to note that, in his great commentary, Theodore Zahn, whom Dr. Stalker called "the Nestor of N.T. criticism, gives "œthe time of the nations to be judged" as the true reading (Offenbarung des Johannes, vol. ii., p. 432): a deeply interesting suggestion. Unfortunately he does not develop the point.

[4] The words "and destroy them that destroy the earth"? have no reference to resurrection. Revelation 19:20-21 gives the scene; it refers to the destruction of Antichrist and his hosts.

[5] See Kelly's Revelation Expounded, p. 133.

[6] Cf. ex. gr. Miss A. R. Habershon: "The judgment-seat of Christ... will take place at His coming to the air for His saints.... All the saved ones up to the time of His coming to the air will be judged according to their works, in order that they may receive commendation."? Parables, pp. 93-4 See also Anderson, Forgotten Truths, Chapter 11, and Hogg-Vine, Thessalonians, pp. 85-8, and Touching the Coming, vi.

[7] In the Revelation alone the phrase "(the) prophets" occurs in the following passages: 10:7; 11:18; 16:6; 28:20, 24; 22:6, 9; cf, 11:10. The reader may judge whether all these instances mean prophets other than those of Ancient Israel and the Christian Church.

[8] Matthew 11:3 Darby's translation. So also Moffatt, Wade, and Weymouth.

[9] Weymouth's version; so Moffatt.

[10] Theodore Zahn: Int., iii., p. 398.

[11] The Second Advent, pp. 131-2, "British Weekly" extra, 1887.

[12] The contents of the Seventh Trumpet may be summarized as follows:­

(a) Upon the World.

  1. Jehovah assumes the Sovereignty.
  2. The Messianic Kingdom is established.

(b) Upon the Ungodly.

  1. The wrath of the Nations (Ps. 2) gives place to the wrath of the Lamb (cf. 6th seal).
  2. The destroyers of the earth (Antichrist and his hosts) are destroyed (cf. 19:19 ff.).

(c) Upon the people of God.

  1. The Coming One comes.
  2. The holy dead are raised and judged.
  3. The prophets, saints and godly are rewarded.

[13] Colossians 1:18; cf. Revelation 1:5, and especially Acts 26:23. See A.V., Good­speed, Moffatt, and Wade.

[14] Seven Churches of Asia, p. ii. Edersheim remarks that the above cases were instances of "resuscitation" rather than of resurrection, ii., p. 397. So even W. Trotter, p. 454.

[15] See the commentaries of Kelly, F. W. Grant, Ottman, Darby, and, in fact, of all their expositors, except Thomas Newberry and Dr. Bullinger, on the Twenty-four Elders in Rev. 4-5.

[16] See Kelly, Revelation, p. 417; Grant, in loco; Ottman, p. 430; Darby, Apocalypse, p. 135, and Synopsis; Newberry, p. 118; Trotter, pp. 477-8.

[17] The expression is examined at greater length in the last chapter of this volume. A. T. Robertson says: "The reason for (dia and the accusative) John's presence in Patmos naturally as a result of persecution already alluded to, not for the purpose of preaching there or of receiving the visions. See verse 2 for the phrase" (iv., p. 290).

[18] Cf. de Burgh on the Apocalypse; Van Oosterzee, N. T. Theology and The Person and Work of the Redeemer.

[19] See the pre-trib commentaries generally. I do not give extracts here, because the view is already well-known, and needs only to be stated.

[20] F. C. Jennings: The Time of The End, p. 13.

[21] INT, iii., p. 400.

[22] Faussett, The Second Advent  "British Weekly," p. 132.

[23] Revelation 4:4, 10; 5:5,6,8,11,14; 7:11,13; 11:16; 14:3; 19:4.

[24] Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:16, Moffatt's translation.

[25] Dean Armitage Robinson, Ephesians, p. 157.


Up till now we have been examining the Scriptures on the resurrection of the saints. And we found that these all located that event at the Day of the Lord, when Messiah inaugurates His kingly rule. It is necessary now to examine some Scriptures in the N.T. that deal with the Church's position in the world at the End-time. The first to occupy our attention is one that our Lord spoke for the express purpose of enlightening us about the course and consummation of this present Age. Here again, as formerly, we confine ourselves to texts that pre-tribs themselves allow us to apply without loss of mental coherence, or dispensational rectitude.

Matthew 13:24-30. This Scripture relates the Parable of the Tares, which is interpreted by our Lord in verses 36-43 of the same chapter.

As to the general significance of this parable, little doubt obtains amongst prophetic students. Like other parables in Matthew 13, it describes the state of things following everywhere from the preaching of the word of God throughout the Gospel dispensation. It will save time to state the purpose of the seven parables of Matthew 13 in the words of some of our leading opponents.

Kelly in his Matthew says:

Anderson remarks in his Coming Prince:[1]

So far, therefore, from the saints' being raptured to heaven some years before the judgment of professors, it is here indicated in the clearest manner that the rooting out of professors and the gathering of Christians take place at the same crisis. But even this is not all; not only do we read that tares and wheat are to "grow together until the harvest," but our Lord in His interpretation states definitely that "the harvest is the consummation of the age" (v. 39, R.V. mg.).

In view of this plain statement it is impossible on candid principles to maintain the theory of a rapture some years prior to the End of the Age. Nevertheless, pre-tribs are hardy enough to attempt the task.

Here is the scheme as held by Darby, Kelly, Scofield, and others: the phrase "'time of the harvest' implies a certain Period occupied with the various processes of ingathering."[3] At the beginning of this period the angels are sent forth in a purely providential way, immediately before the Lord's Coming "for the Church." In some mysterious way, secret and providential, the angels gather professors into bundles in readiness for judgment. But no judgment whatever really takes place yet. The Lord then comes for the true Church, symbolized by the wheat, and gathers it to Himself. The ungodly professors, however, who had previously been bundled by the angels, are still left in the world for a number of years, until the Lord comes forth in judgment. The "consummation of the age," according to this scheme, is a period of at least seven years, but it may run to seventy or a thousand.

Such is a fair statement of the position adopted. Can it be maintained? I think it can be shown that a lamer justification could not be offered; the reasoning coolly assumes as proved the very thing they require to prove; not only that, it involves a glaring contradiction, alike of itself and the Scriptures.

Where is the proof that "the end of the age" is a period of years beginning with the Rapture and ending with the Day of the Lord? Not a line is offered beyond the requirements of their prophetic program.

Further proof of this is seen when we ask our opponents how long the "consummation" is going to last; no certain reply is forthcoming. Some assert it will be but seven years, others that it will be about thirty-five years, and Anderson informs us that a thousand years may elapse between the removal of the Church and the Lord's descent to earth! In any case, "the consummation of the age," in their view, is really a new age altogether; an age, moreover, that itself will have a consummation. Two "second" comings, two "first" resurrections, two "last" trumpets, and two "ends" of the age - this is the program.

This, however, is not what our Lord taught. The age He had in mind was the present evil one, during which Israel is in unbelief, Jerusalem trodden under foot, Gentile dominion holds sway, and the saints of God suffer for His name. But this evil age will have a consummation: 'Messiah appears in His glory; Israel repents; the sleeping saints rise; Antichrist is given to the burning flame, and the Kingdom is established. This is everywhere the "consummation of the age." Proof of this is found in Matthew 24:3, where we read that the disciples came to our Lord and asked, "when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the consummation of the age?" (RX. mg.). Here the Lord's Coming in glory is linked with the End of the Age.[4] Now what put the idea into the disciples' minds that Christ's Coming in glory would take place at the End of the Age? Undoubtedly the closing verses of Matthew 23. Edersheim in commenting on them says:

To this awkward question no reply has been given, for none is possible.

Lastly, the pre-trib theory of a rapture some years before the End of the Age is refuted by the closing verse of our Lord's interpretation: "Then (tote, at that time) shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (v. 43).

Here, as we have already seen, we find that at the very time that the ungodly are rooted out of Christ's Kingdom and judged, the resurrection and glorification of the righteous take place; for the shining forth of the saints has no reference to a previous concealment of the saints in heaven, but to their transfiguration at the resurrection of the just. Matthew 13:43 is a clear reference to Daniel 12:2-3, which speaks of resurrection.

In view of the hopeless breakdown of Darby's and Kelly's interpretation of the Parable of the Tares, it is not to be wondered at that some advocates of the new theories of the Advent should have come to see the need of a new apologetic in reference to it. The exegesis that prevailed for seventy years amongst all the greatest of pre-trib teachers, as well as the rank and file, was seen to be not danger-proof. In particular, it was felt among the new theorists that, if the gathering of the wheat in the parable signified the Rapture of the saints, then the new theories on the Second Coming could not be true; this point was at last clearly seen and admitted. What was to be done, therefore, to save the new doctrine? for the idea of giving up the theories as erroneous seems never to be entertained, such is the obloquy (humiliation) the alternative view inspires. The new plan is simple. It denies that the Parable of the Tares has reference to Christendom; denies that the gathering of the wheat refers to the Rapture of the saints. The parable will have its fulfillment only after the Church has been raptured, when, ex hypothesi, the Jewish Remnant takes up the work of evangelizing the world. Bullinger, with praiseworthy consistency, rules all the parables of Matthew 13 out of court, so far as the Church is concerned. The fact that they were found in one of the Four Gospels precluded any reference to the Church. Had they been written in one of Paul's Epistles to the Body of Christ the case would have been different.

Other teachers, however, like Gaebelein, in his Matthew, hand over to the Jewish Remnant only such of the parables of Matthew 13 as do not square with their novel theories. The Parables of the Tares and the Drag Net, which are specially inconvenient, are referred to the period, ex hypothesi, between the Rapture and the millennium.

It would take us too far afield to go into these Remnant theories now, and as the whole Remnant hypothesis will come before us on another occasion, the fiction of their supposed preaching had better be deferred as well. One or two remarks for the present will suffice. First, not a word of evidence is produced to support the assertion that the Parable of the Tares belongs to the Remnant. Such a body is not so much as hinted at in the whole course of Matthew 13. The real reason why this Remnant theory is produced at this juncture is clear to all candid minds. Read naturally the Parable of the Tares spells midnight to the new theories on the Second Coming, and so it is denied that the Parable has reference to the Church.

That the parable has reference to the present dispensation is clear from the fact that the Lord says "the harvest is the end of the age," that is, of the age that we now live in; for the idea of another evil age succeeding this one is a mere figment of Gaebelein's imagination; the age, according to Scripture, that succeeds this present Age, is the millennium.

But a simpler method of dealing with the wild vagaries of this dispensational sect is to point to the clear testimony of the real leaders of the school. In addition to those already given, I may cite some words from Kelly:[5]

Now I want the reader to mark the extraordinary claims and admissions made here. Miss Habershon admits that the gathering of the wheat refers to a rapture at the End of the Age, but not properly that of the Church. She wants us to believe that, though the body of the Parable of the Tares "exactly describes the condition of things now, wheat and darnel growing together," yet our Lord passed over the gathering of Christians in silence. She wants us to believe that though the wheat "exactly describes" the condition of Christendom now, yet the gathering of the wheat cannot represent the gathering of Christians at Christ's approaching Advent, but must be referred to a nebulous company that will arise after the Church has been taken up, and be raptured at the very End of the Age! Moreover, her scheme leads straight to the doctrine of two raptures;[7] first, we have the rapture - unrecorded - of the Church; then we have the rapture recorded in the parable, some years later. So that as the new theories require us to believe in two "first" resurrections, two "second" comings, two "last" days, two "ends" of the age, two "last" trumpets, so now we are to accept the theory of two "raptures" of saints, two harvests! And Miss Habershon's effort to unite these two raptures by calling them parts of the same "harvest" would only avail if the two reapings were separated by a question of days; but to ask us to believe that the reaping of the "wheat" of the whole Church dispensation, followed by another reaping several years or decades after, is but one harvest, is a sheer travesty of exposition.

Dr. Ottman seeks to turn this criticism by calling "the removal of the Church the barley harvest, while that which remains to be gathered in at the end of the seven years may be regarded as the wheat harvest" (p. 352). Think of the extraordinary hold that error has on some when the gathering of wheat - for Dr. Ottman admits that the wheat of the parable represents the Church - can be called a barley harvest![8]

As for Miss Habershon's "first-fruit" argument, we have seen[9] this to be worthless, because the "first-fruit" refers, not to Christ and the Church, but to the Lord Jesus Christ alone (1 Cor. 15:20). The reaping of the first-fruits took place, therefore, nineteen hundred years ago.

And Miss Habershon's admission that "the real harvest" they that are Christ's at His coming - "is the time specially described in the parable" gives her whole case away completely; for whilst it was a fiction of Bullinger's that "they that are Christ's" were inferior saints, it is the doctrine of Scripture that they are Christians and members of the Church of this dispensation. Half a dozen texts are at hand to substantiate this statement, namely: 1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:22-23; 15:23; 2 Corinthians 10:7; and Galatians 3:29; 5:24.

Most welcome, therefore, is Miss Habershon's confession that the real harvest of the parable is the gathering of "those that are Christ's;" welcome also is her contention that the reaping takes place at "the time of the Lord's coming in power to set up His kingdom." Her whole case has collapsed because it was vital for her to prove that the gathering of Christians does not take place at the End of the Age, but several years before it.

It is no wonder that the advocates of pre-trib theories of the Advent do not feel happy before the Parable of the Tares; no wonder they are in complete disarray amongst themselves in trying to make the words of the Lord, "let both grow together until the harvest," and, "the harvest is the end of the age," square with the theory that the tares and wheat do not so grow together, and that the harvest is not the End of the Age, but some years before it. Hence the fact that the most unnatural expedients are resorted to avoid the natural sense of Christ's gracious words. To put the Four Gospels from us, to invent another secret harvest; to bring in the Jewish Remnant and rob us of precious promises; to reduce to thin air the binding of the tares; to make Antichrist rise after the End of the Age; to make the End of the Age a new age altogether - these are held as proof of a special enlightenment, and of "rightly dividing the word of truth." But to teach the obvious truth that the Parable of the Tares locates the gathering of Christians at the End of the Age, when false professors are judged - this is viewed as confusion, and the work of the Enemy.

Many people will entertain the following conclusion about the Parable of the Tares: when writers like Darby, Kelly, Newberry and Scofield insist that the gathering of the wheat signifies the muster of the saints at Christ's Coming they do so because the natural reading of the words compels them so to interpret it. And when writers like Bullinger, Gaebelein and Miss Habershon insist that the wheat is so gathered at the very End of the Age, when Christ appears in His glory, they do so because that is the natural force of the Lord's words, "the harvest is the end of the age." Now both sets of writers are right in what they affirm: Darby, Kelly, Newberry, and Scofield in that the gathering of the wheat signifies the Rapture of the Church: Bullinger, Gaebelein and Miss Habershon in that the gathering of the wheat is located by the Lord Jesus at the End of the Age, when He comes forth in His power and majesty, and establishes His Kingdom. Matthew 13:47-50 (R. V. mg.).

Another parable of Christendom reads as follows:

[1] Cf. The Bible and Modern Criticism, pp. 204-6.

[2] Reference Bible, p. 1014. Cf. Ottman; "the wheat-field mingled with tares is plainly enough a parable of the present Christian dispensation," p. 351. See also Darby, Synopsis, in loco; Bland, p. 83.

[3] See Kelly, Matthew, p. 278; cf. Ottman, pp. 351-2; Darby, Synopsis, in loco; Scofield, Reference Bible, p. 1016.

[4] In Zahn-Komm. on Matthew (in loco), Zahn quotes important evidence from MSS. and versions for "consummation" without the article in verse 3. And the Greek texts of Westcott and Hort, Weymouth, Tregelles, and Nestle (1930) actually give this as the true text. Zahn points out that, if this is so, then the Apostles asked of the Lord "a single sign for both" - the Parousia and End of the World-period. Darby brackets the article before "Con­summation" and points the same lesson. In other words, the best text favors the view of the text above, that the Parousia coincides with the End of the Age.

[5] Matthew, p. 279. As for Gaebelein's groundless fancy that the Parable of the Tares speaks of an inferior or more elementary gospel than the one we are saved by, some other words of Kelly's may be cited: "The harvest is the consummation of the age, that is, of the present gospel dispensation - the time while the Lord is absent, and the gospel is being proclaimed over the earth. Grace is actively going forth now" (p. 287).

[6] Daniel 12:2-3; Isaiah 25:8, 26:19; Matthew 13:43; Luke 14:14-15, 20:35; John 6:39-54.

[7] Bullinger ly advocated this: "There is more than one resurrection; why not more than one Rapture?" " Things to Come," vii., p. 33. So also Mr. D. M. Panton, Rapture.

[8] Ottman says elsewhere: "But this harvest is seven years before our Lord's coming to establish the Kingdom," pp. 351-2. But this is rather different from what our Lord said.

[9] See Excursus to Chapter 4.

[10] Dean Armitage Robinson, Ephesians, p. 157.


These were among the last words spoken by the Lord to His Apostles before He left them. Naturally they have a peculiar interest to all His people today, because it is through the obedience of the Apostles and early witnesses to this command, that we ourselves have come to know the faith of the Gospel. What concerns us now, however, is the light that these words of our Lord throw upon our inquiry when the Church's career upon earth will close. It affords us very clear guidance, for the Lord promised to the founders of His Church His own presence by the Spirit, "unto the consummation of the age." Plain it is, therefore, that the Church will exist on earth until that time. Such is the natural inference of the promise; for if the Lord had believed that He was to come and receive His believing people to Himself several years before the End of the Age arrived, He could not have used the language that we are now examining. He would have said, "I am with you all the days until the last trial, when I will receive you to Myself." But the fact that He said, "I am with you alway even unto the consummation of the age," is proof that our Lord presupposed that His Church would not be removed from earth to heaven, several years or decades before the End.

Some have sought to obviate this criticism by assuming that the End of the Age is a period lasting from the Rapture till the millennium; but I have already shown that the suggestion is untenable, because the proposed interval, so far from being a consummation to "this present evil Age," is a new age altogether. But according to Scripture the age that follows the present one is that of the kingly rule of Messiah. Moreover, Matthew 24:3 shows that the consummation of the Age is Christ's Advent in glory and power to establish that Kingdom.

Other pre-trib advocates, who saw clearly the truth of this, cast about to find a less vulnerable mode of saving their theories, because to leave the Church on earth until the End of the Age was a heresy that the new scheme of the prophetic future was intended to save us from. These theorists admit that Christ's words presuppose the existence on earth until the very End of this Age of the people whom the Apostles represented. And they admit that if their theories had to stand the test of the obvious meaning of Christ's promise they would necessarily collapse. "But," they triumphantly claim, "the surface meaning of the Great Commission is not the true meaning at all; our Lord was not addressing the Apostles as representatives of His Church during the Gospel dispensation, but of a Jewish Remnant that is to arise in the future, after the Church is taken to heaven. True, this is not the common view, and none of the great commentators has ever taught it, but Darby discovered it some years ago through seeing that Matthew is the Jewish gospel."

Such is the theory entertained by many teachers in England and America.[1]

As this theory of the Jewish Remnant will come before us at length in another volume, I do not enter fully upon it now. Suffice it to offer a few general criticisms on its use at Matthew 28, and I am confident that these will avail to show that the supposed "discovery" is merely an invention.

First, it is fair to state that we are not alone in repudiating this new vagary of exegesis. Most of those who maintain the new prophetic scheme, and even believe in the missionary labors of the future Jewish Remnant, treat with scorn and indignation the new interpretation of Matthew 28:19-20. This is the attitude of Open Brethren as a whole. They, who have a noble missionary work in all parts of the world, energetically resist the latest theory of the new cult. Year by year conferences are held amongst the Christians I have mentioned to urge the claims of the Lord's last Commission upon the Church, and stir up greater interest in the missionary crusade. It is therefore not open to Gaebelein and his school to urge that opposition to their interpretation springs from "dispensational" ignorance, because many men on his own side, who are not his inferiors in perception of prophetic truth, reject the dispensational interpretation of Matthew 28.

But without going into the Remnant theory it is possible to show conclusively that the application of Matthew 28 to Jews of the Last Days is wrong. Indeed, such an application is inconsistent with the theory of the Remnant elsewhere. When, for instance, Christians open Matthew 24 for instruction on the Lord's Coming, Darbyists say to us: "How can the Apostles in Matthew 24:3 have represented the Christian Church? They knew nothing of redemption by blood, nothing of the new creation headed up in the risen Christ, nothing of the new life through the indwelling Spirit, nothing of union with Christ the Lord in His death and resurrection. They were but companions of a rejected Christ, and, as such, were typical of a Remnant in Israel that will have a hazy notion of Christ's person and work, yet will be witnesses for Him." Such is the gist of the arguments used to prove that the Coming of Matthew 24:29-37, and the preceding events, cannot have reference to any part of the Church of God of this Dispensation.[2] And it is accompanied by the tacit admission that, if the Apostles, when receiving the instruction of those chapters, had not been such a poor turnout spiritually, if they had been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, made part of the new creation in Christ Jesus, endowed with the life-giving Spirit, and united to Christ in His death and resurrection, then the only choice would be to accept the teaching about the Parousia in Matthew 24 as spoken to representatives of the Christian Church.

But the theorists' attitude to the Apostles in Matthew 28:19-20, gives the lie to their pleading at 24:3; for, when the Apostles sat at Christ's feet in Matthew 28, not only the greatest crisis in the history of the world, but also the greatest in the spiritual experience of the Apostles, had taken place, namely: the death and resurrection of the Son of God. The men who for three years had been disciples at the Savior's feet, were now redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb; were clean through the word that He had spoken; were a new creation in Christ Jesus;[3] they had received the regenerating Spirit, and been begotten again unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Pet. 1:3); in a few days they were to receive the Spirit of power in all His fullness, for the accomplishment of the task that the Lord was now committing to them, (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 1:8; Luke 24:47-49). And yet, in spite of this revolution in the Apostles' standing and experience, our dispensationalist friends have the coolness to link them to the semi-Christian, semi-converted Jewish Remnant of uncertain standing in the Last Days! If, however, the dispensational status of the Apostles depended from time to time upon their spiritual attainment or standing at the time the Lord addressed them: if, for example, as pre-tribs insist, the limited standing of the Apostles at Matthew 24:3, placed them in relationship with the future Jewish Remnant, then it is simply impossible to relegate them to that Remnant in Matthew 28, because their spiritual condition and standing had been transformed since the former occasion. I have already referred to words of Kelly's to show that after the resurrection the Apostles stood on Christian ground; they stood before God in the fullness of the redemption accomplished by Him who died the death, and rose in the power of an indissoluble life (Heb. 7:16). To the Jews, as a matter of fact, our Lord did not manifest Himself after His resurrection; He revealed Himself only to His brethren, the men and women who had been redeemed by His blood, and were now in union with Him (Matt. 28:10; Heb. 2:11-13; cf. Acts 10:41).

Every argument, therefore, that the theorist uses to prove that the Apostles at Matthew 24:3 represented the Jewish National Remnant of the future, avails to refute his contention that at 28:19-20 they did not represent the Christian Church; for the ground on which they now stand is not Jewish, but Christian; and He of whom they are companions is not a Christ after the flesh in Israel, but the risen and glorified Lord of the universe.

The fact that the Remnant theory can be made, on pre-trib dispensational presuppositions, to fit the Apostles' standing alike before and after the tremendous change of the cross, the resurrection, and the bestowal of the Spirit, is proof that the whole Remnant hypothesis is a veritable nose of wax to be turned and twisted as the difficulties dictate.

Marvelous is the Remnant in the hands of a thorough-going dispensationalist. Are there "martyrs,"[4] "for God's word and Christ's Gospel still in the disembodied state in heaven, after the Secret Rapture and resurrection? The Remnant or its converts will account for them. Are there "saints" (Paul's and John's name for Christians) in the tribulation at the End?[5] Again, the Remnant's converts fulfill all that is asked of them. Are there "Elect" (the term used by our Lord and His Apostles for the saved of this dispensation)[6] to be mustered at the Last Day? The Remnant with its Imprecatory Psalms, and the Sermon on The Mount, accommodates itself to the situation. It meets every emergency, solves every difficulty, carries every weight. At one and the same time it is going to complete[7] a commission (Matthew 10:1-23) that began with a prohibition to go among Gentiles, and take up another to go and disciple all Nations.

Again, if the spiritual attainments and standing of the Apostles at the time preclude the application of Matthew 28:19-20 to a semi-converted Remnant of the Last Days, still more do the spiritual blessings and functions presupposed preclude it. According to the Commission, the persons addressed will disciple all nations and baptize them into the name of the Trinity. Now this is something that it will be impossible for the Remnant to do, because the strange theory itself credits the Remnant with only the haziest notions of Christ's person. Almost all pre-tribs even teach that the Remnant will not acknowledge Jesus as Messiah; Gaebelein himself tells us[8] that it is "an evil interpretation" that makes Christians of the 144,000 Jewish witnesses, who, ex hypothesi, are to fulfill Matthew 28:19-20, during the time of Antichrist; and yet his new-fangled interpretation of the missionary Commission sends them out to win and baptize all nations! And as for baptism, the very significance of the rite rules out the Remnant; for we know that that sacrament signifies, among other things, the identification of the believer with Christ in His death, but, ex hypothesi, the Remnant will know nothing of such a truth.

Again, the persons addressed by Christ were commissioned to teach their converts "to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Not a few select passages from the Sermon on the Mount; not a few stray snippets selected by dispensationalists as too rugged for the Church; not isolated fragments from the "Jewish Gospel;" but "all things whatsoever I have commanded you;" including, of course, the command: "This do in remembrance of Me," and all other precepts and commands in the discourses of the Upper Room, and their sublime teaching on the Fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of Christ with believers, and the new commandment of love in the family of God. All this, however, will be lost on the Remnant, for they, so far from being able to inculcate those wonderful doctrines, will be, ex hypothesi, ignorant of the first principles of the Gospel of Christ, Gaebelein tells us with enthusiasm that the witnessing Remnant will even fulfill the Imprecatory Psalms, and at the same time some of the Beatitudes of our Lord! This seems totally incredible, but it is so.[9]

Finally, the persons addressed by the Lord Jesus were promised the presence of the risen, glorified Christ by the Spirit, every single day until the Age should end (v. 20). The Lord Himself was to be their strength and portion. Does any theorist seriously contend that the Jewish Remnant will enjoy this unique blessedness?

When one thinks of this dispensational miracle of a company of semi-Christian, semi-converted Jews, guided now by the Imprecatory Psalms, now by the Lord's Prayer, some Beatitudes, and the more arduous portions of the majestic Sermon on the Mount, going out to evangelize the world in twelve hundred and sixty days, at the very time that the Holy Spirit, ex hypothesi, has been raptured to heaven, and Antichrist is reigning in a world of men given over to judicial blindness, and of this company of 144,000 evangelists succeeding in converting "the overwhelming majority" of the inhabitants of the world to Christ, and when one thinks that the essential features of this ludicrous picture are enthusiastically accepted by countless multitudes in Christendom, one can only find suitable words in Lucian,[10] who, though he lived about eighteen hundred years ago, furnished a marvelous picture of modern reasoners who swallow an absurdity for one of their premises, carry it through to its logical conclusion, and, without a smile, offer us a fantastic conclusion, which gets not a whit saner or truer from endless repetition and dogmatism:

These words of the great Attic wit and literary miracle of the second century of our Era are more caustic than one likes, but otherwise they are perfectly applicable to those students of prophecy who confuse and combine two companies of the End-time that the Scriptures distinguish, namely: a Remnant of pious Israelites in Palestine, who are sealed against death and apostasy in the last great trial, and are converted to the Saviour at His descent to the mount of Olives;[11] and the Christian Church of Judaea, which, in Apostolic times, formed part of the Body of Christ,[12] if the Apostle Paul is to be trusted, and, in the End-time, will study Christ's word, will act on it to the saving of their souls, and will share His glory when He comes to reign:[13] Jews in the land of Israel, subject to its laws and codes and constitution, just as Christians elsewhere are subject to the laws of their countries; yet Christians who love the Saviour of Israel, and wait for the blessed hope of His Glorious Appearing.[14]

The failure of theorists to distinguish these things is what necessitated and created the two-headed, two-tongued monstrosity in Israel and Christendom at the End-time - a half-converted, half-Christian Jewish Remnant, which at one and the same time evangelizes the nations - and invokes the curses of heaven upon them: which cleaves to the Imprecatory Psalms - and uses the Lord's Prayer, some of the Beatitudes, and the Missionary Commission of Matthew 28: which knows nothing of present peace, forgiveness and deliverance and converts untold millions to Christ: which is sealed against death - and has many thousands of "martyrs "who are so fortunate as to enter heaven and attain the highest blessings which is nebulous in its knowledge of full salvation - and becomes nursing father to the glorious martyrs of Revelation 7.

An acute writer said of pre-war Russia that it showed an Asiatic face towards Europe, and a European face towards Asia. And the Remnant of Darby, Trotter, and Gaebelein[15] will be a prodigy in the manipulation of its conflicting moods and feelings, as it pursues "the gentle art of making enemies, and preaches to them the Gospel of the Kingdom."

It is all consistent and ludicrous, because they began by accepting the absurdity that a cantankerous O.T. company in the strait-jacket of the Imprecatory Psalms is to be identified with members of the Christian Church, now on the soil of Palestine, now among the nations, who keep the teaching of Jesus Christ in using the Lord's Prayer and other ordinances, in discipling all nations by baptism, and by teaching their Saviour's will as the grand principle of a new life.

There will always be a few to think that, in addition to exceptional gifts and insight, Darby wore a mantle of infallibility; so that the Remnant theories will last as long as the Synopsis is read, which will be a long time; but there is no excuse for Open Brethren's persisting in the acceptance of theories that, more than any other factor, not excluding Sacerdotalism, are making the oral teaching of our Lord of no effect: theories that are blighting Bible study and Christian fellowship all over the world: theories and traditions that have cursed the movement from the beginning. Why is there no excuse? Because the great leader who saved them from a new bondage, who was mighty in prayer to God for the support of thousands of orphans, the sending forth of missionaries, and the distribution of the Word of God, taught them the truth on the hope of Christ's Second Coming,[16] without the subtleties, the distortions, and the errors that others wrote on their broad phylacteries. And if some think that mighty prayer, spirituality, and the simplicity of Christ are inadequate guides on prophecy, then there are the admirable books by Tregelles, a thorough scholar: Remarks on The Prophetic Visions of Daniel[17] and The Hope of Christ's Second Coming, to supply what they desire in the way of competent scholarship. The boycott on these and Newton's works might well be lifted in this centennial year.[18]

It is seriously and repeatedly urged by theorists that the fact of the Missionary Commission's being recorded in Matthew's Gospel is proof that it cannot be applicable to the Church. But the atoning death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ are also recorded in that same Gospel; must we therefore assume that those doctrines do not have reference to the Church of God, but apply only to the Remnant of Jews in the Last Days? We must do if this argument is sound. True it is that one of Matthew's aims was at proving that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel; but that Gospel was written in vain unless we see that it was a principal intention of its author to show that He who is Israel's Messiah is also Lord and Saviour of a Church from all nations. In the selection of the parables and incidents in the last sixteen chapters of his Gospel, the Apostle aims at showing, among other things, that the Gospel has broken beyond the limits of Judaism, and, in an age when Jesus is rejected officially by the Nation, is gathering a new and living Israel from all tribes and nations of the earth. It is Matthew's Gospel alone that records the Lord's purpose to build His new Ecclesia (16:18).

The volume that opened by giving the "genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham," closes fittingly and grandly by showing Jesus, no longer as the Saviour merely of the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but as the Saviour of a company from all nations, and Lord of the universe; by showing that this company is subject, not to the law of Moses, but to the precepts and principles of Him whose commandments are not grievous; by showing that this Israel after the Spirit will not enjoy the presence of Jehovah at stated times and places only, but all the days, and in all places, until He shall come forth in His glory, and the Church shall see Him as He is.

A modern master in Israel and the Church thus characterizes the Great Commission.[19]

When I hear the theorists relegating the Great Commission to the Jews because it is written in the "Jewish" Gospel, I am always reminded of an interesting story, which has a good moral. A revered missionary friend of mine in Melbourne, Australia, had the admirable custom at dinner, when the family circle was complete, of selecting a Biblical topic as a subject of conversation. By means of the discussion that followed, even young people were instructed in the mysteries of the faith; for the father was a scholarly man, and a reverent student of the Scriptures, including prophetic truth. But of course there was a danger of young people's not seeing things in their right proportion, and of being misled by half-truths. One day the mother, on going to the front gate, found one of her sons, a youth about nine, engaged in a vigorous fight with a neighbor's son. The mother rebuked her boy and asked him for an explanation. "He hit me on the face and I hit him back," came the reply. "But," the mother asked, "have you never read the words of the Lord Jesus, "whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also"? "The lad thereupon asked, "Mother, in which Gospel is that text found?" "In Matthew's," was the reply. Upon which he quickly and triumphantly responded, "Well, mother, Matthew's Gospel was written for the Jews!"

How very like the grown-up theorists who, whenever they are confronted with a text in Matthew or the Apocalypse that smashes their system, endeavor to wriggle out of their difficulty by explaining, with a wave of the hand, "That's in the Jewish Gospel," or "That was spoken to Jews!" The poor Apostles! If only they had been a conglomeration of men from the heathen tribes in the four corners of the earth, then we could have accepted teaching addressed to them as Christians and meant for the Body of Christ; but seeing that they came from the same race as Abraham and Isaac and Jacob; as Moses and David and Daniel; as Rabinowich and Edersheim and Adolph Saphir, they could not receive teaching from the Lord in the days of His flesh that was suitable for the Church out of all Nations! So, in effect, it is gravely argued in certain circles where the new wisdom prevails.

Let sober Christians have done with a system of prophetic interpretation that leads them to subscribe to vagaries like this. Let them, if need be, throw overboard the new theories of the Advent rather than give up this glorious promise of the Saviour's presence with His people; for surely His gracious words are not only calculated to stir the conscience in view of millions lying still in darkness, but also to arouse joy unspeakable in the soul of everyone who is laboring for Him; for He promises to be with us, and holds out to us the hope of His coming again.

In his learned and helpful commentary on Matthew Plummer says of the Lord's promise to His Church:

[1] See Gaebelein: Matthew, in loco, where Darby is quoted. Cf. Anderson The Buddha of Christendom, p. 271; The Bible or the Church? p. 232.

[2] See Kelly, Christ's Coming Again, and Second Coming; Darby, Synopsis; Trotter, chapter 15; Gaebelein, Olivet Discourse and Matthew. Kelly is very specific on the points mentioned in the text.

[3] On the words: "He breathed on them and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit "(John xx. 22), the reader is referred to Kelly's N.T. Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, p. 140.

[4] Revelation 7:9-17, 6:9-11, 20:4b; Isaiah 26:19.

[5] Revelation 22:21 (R.V.), 13:7, 14:12

[6] Matthew 12:4 (eklektoi: the same word as in 24:31), and Romans 8:33, etc.

[7] Matthew 10:23 is applied by Dr. Gaebelein to the future preaching of the Remnant.

[8] Olivet Discourse, p. 45.

[9] See his Matthew, Olivet Discourse, and Hath God, etc.

[10] The Rival Philosophies.

[11] Revelation 7:1-8, and Revelation 14:1-5; Joel 2:32 (R.V.); Zechariah 8:11-12, 12-13; Matthew 23:39; Romans 11:25-26.

[12] 1 Thessalonians 2:14; Galatians 1;22; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Romans 16:7.

[13] Revelation 12:14, 17; Matthew 24:15; Luke 21:34-36 etc.

[14] Titus 2:3. See Weymouth's, Moffatt's and Goodspeed's translations and chapter 9 of this volume.

[15] The picture is given with a wealth of detail by all three writers.

[16] The Second Coming of Christ, by George Muller; a sermon preached in 1881.

[17] Published originally by Samuel Bagster & Sons, London; Newton's works on prophecy (The Prophecy of the Lord Jesus as contained in Matthew 24-25, etc,) were published by Houlston & Sons, London. They are now obtainable from the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony Movement.

[18] It is fair to state that Sir R. Anderson treated the 144,000 as "Jews and yet Christians;" but, as seen above, Gaebelein calls this "an evil interpreta­tion." Anderson, followed by Bullinger and F. E. Marsh, held that the Pentecostal Church did not belong to the Body of Christ, which began with Paul. But this fiction is disposed of by 2 Thessalonians 2:14; Galatians 1:22; 1 Corinthians 15:9; and Romans 16:7.

[19] Adolph Saphir: Christ and the Church (preface).


The two previous chapters on the Parable of the Tares and the great Missionary Commission dealt with the relation of Christians to the Consummation (sunteleia) of the Age; in the Parable we found that the wheat, representing the Church, is gathered at the Day of the Lord, when the unfaithful are also judged; in the Great Commission we found it presupposed that the Church will continue on earth until the Lord Himself comes in His glory, at the same Consummation of the Age.

There is another word used in the Gospels for the End; it is telos, which, when used of the Last Things, means simply the End or close of the present world-period: the Day of the Appearing of the Son of Man, our Lord and Saviour. We are so fortunate here as to have most Darbyists with us; it is they who insist most strongly on the point, as anyone can verify by referring to the comments of Kelly, Scofield, and many others on Matthew 10:22, and 24:6, 13, 14, where the End (telos) is spoken of. See also F. C. Jennings, The Time of the End (pp. 4-6).

But if we argue that those texts presuppose that Christians will exist on earth till the Coming of the Son of Man in glory, as described in Matthew 24:29-31, we are immediately told that it is the Jewish Remnant that is in view, and that the Church will have been raptured off the scene years and perhaps generations before.

It is quite impossible to deal with the convenient Remnant hypothesis in this work; one literally requires a volume to examine it and the whole "dispensational" system on which it rests. There isn't the remotest hope of finding common ground now, unless we go to the Epistles of Paul and Peter and John. In another volume I shall pay pre-tribs the compliment of meeting them on their own ground.

Let us therefore go to the Epistles, especially as our opponents affirm vigorously that "the End" is never found there for the hope of the Church. Writing in the London (October 17th, 1907), Dr. W. H. Griffith Thomas remarked on Matthew 24:14: "I cannot find the word 'end' is anywhere else applied to the coming of the Lord for His people." And another scholarly Anglican writes: "As regards the word 'End' ' - ' and then shall the end come.' This is not the Coming of Christ; that event is nowhere called the 'End.' Here is the source of error with so many Bible students . . . ."[1] So also Dr. Gaebelein frequently and emphatically. I propose to show that not fewer than five texts in the Epistles associate "the End" (telos) with the Christian hope; and if one text of Scripture availed to "hang the universe on" in William Kelly's day, he would be the first to agree that five will stand the expanding universe of Einstein, Lord Rutherford, and Sir James Jeans, and should suffice to support a biblical doctrine.

There is a wealth of exegetical literature to confirm our view that the End here is the Parousia of Christ. It is scarcely necessary to cite it, because the juxtaposition of the two eschatological terms Revelation and Day of Christ, which all the pre-trib leaders applied to the Day of the Lord, is right at hand to show what Paul meant. Yet a few brief quotations will be serviceable. A. T. Robertson says that "Unto the End" means "End of the age till Jesus comes, final preservation of the saints" (iv., p. 71). Robertson and Plummer in ICC say: "The doctrine of the approach of the end is continually in the Apostle's thoughts: 3:13; 4:5; 6:2, 3; 7:29; 11:26; 15:51; 16:22" (p. 7). Godet says in his commentary: "The end is the Lord's coming again, for which the Church should constantly watch, for the very reason that it knows not the time of it; compare Luke 12:35 and 36; Mark 13:32 (p. 58). Canon Evans in one of the more brilliant volumes of the Speaker's Commentary remarks: "The end, not of life, but of this Aeon, or dispensation." So also Alford, Bachmann, Bousset, and J. Weiss. Admirable is Meyer:

[1] Dr. J. H. Townsend: A Bright Tomorrow, p. 46.


Here again the Appearing and the Coming are but two aspects of the same event: the Glorious Appearing of Christ the Lord.

In 1 John 3:2 the Appearing of Christ is both the cause and the occasion of the transfiguration of Christians, just as in 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 this blessedness is linked with the coming of the Kingdom: "Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is" (R.V.).

But the most decisive text to prove John's attitude is found in Revelation 1:7, which reads as follows: "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen."

To appreciate properly the presence of this moving passage on the first page of the book it is necessary to bear in mind that the book of Revelation, as a whole, is an Epistle, written by John the Apostle to the Seven Churches of Asia. It contains an opening salutation (1:4-6),[5] continues throughout in the first person, and concludes, like the other N.T. Epistles, with the Apostolic benediction upon the readers of the letter - "the grace of the Lord Jesus be with the saints, Amen" (22:21, R.V. and Darby).

This character of the Apocalypse as an Epistle written to the Churches of Asia (which were founded in great part through the evangelistic labors of Paul, and had already received an earlier encyclical from that Apostle, i.e., the Epistle to the Ephesians) has been overlooked by pre-tribs, but is well established by many eminent students of the Apocalypse.[6]

Some time before the war the British Admiralty addressed an important communication on Imperial Naval policy to each of the overseas Dominions; accompanying this common memorandum was a covering letter for each, dealing with local considerations. So it is with the Revelation. The Apocalypse proper is an Epistle to the Seven Churches, and to the Church universal, concerning the approaching times of Antichrist, and the sufferings of the saints. The Seven Epistles are special messages (not letters) to the overseers of the Churches of Asia, praising, exhorting, or reproving them, according to the condition of their congregations.

The importance of this fact can scarcely be exaggerated, for it shows that when John wrote his fourth and last Epistle in A.D. 96 he was animated by precisely the same hope as animated Paul when he wrote his last Epistles, those to Timothy and Titus in 65-66. Paul rejoiced in the blessed hope of the Glorious Appearing of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ; John is thrilled by the very same hope: the Coming of Jesus Christ in the clouds of heaven, to be seen by every eye, and specially by the penitent tribes in the land of Israel (Rev. 1:7, Darby).

This same Advent of the Coming One takes place, as we saw when studying the resurrection, at chapter 11:17, when the first resurrection and the rewarding of the saints are effected. It is described in detail at [Revelation] 19:11-20:6, where Antichrist is overthrown, the dead in Christ are raised, and the living saints are translated to sit upon thrones, and exercise kingly rule in the Days of the Son of Man.

What shall we say to these things? Simply that all the sophistry of men cannot find room for a secret rapture, or a pre-tribulation rapture: they are forever ruled out by the fact that the book from beginning to end knows nothing[7] of any coming of the Lord, prior to His Glorious Appearing at 1:7, 11:18, and 19:11. And what is true of the Apocalypse, is true of the whole N.T. revelation from our Saviour's oral teaching until the close of the Apostolic Age: Messiah comes in great glory; the holy dead are raised; the sons of Jacob look penitently upon their brother Joseph, whom they rejected and sold into Egypt; the Kingdom comes, and with it the glory of the righteous. The Coming for the saints and the Coming with the saints take place at the same crisis; the day of the resurrection and transfiguration of the holy dead, and of the renewal of Israel.

I have shown that this was the hope of O.T. saints, of the Pentecostal Church, of the Churches founded by Paul, and of those addressed in the Revelation. It is also the hope of Hebrew Christians of our own generation; many will welcome the beautiful testimony of one of the greatest Hebrew preachers since the Apostles:[8]

[1] See chapter 1, where extracts are given from "the Big Four:" Darby, Kelly, Trotter and C. H. M.

[2] G. Milligan, cited by A. T. Robertson.

[3] See C. H. M., p. 31; A. J. Pollock, May Christ Come at Any Moment? p. 3, and Gaebelein The Olivet Discourse, p. 89.

[4] C. F. Hogg, "The Morning Star," Aug. 1, 1912. His position twenty years later is examined in a subsequent chapter of this volume.

[5] John, to the seven Churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne; and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, etc.

[6] See Ramsay: The Seven Churches of Asia, pp. 36-8; Hort Romans and Ephesians, p. 89; Zahn, ENT, iii., pp. 389-91, 413; Swete, The Apocalypse, p. 217; Deissmann, Light From the Ancient East, p. 237.

[7] Chapter 14 gives a proleptic (anticipated) view of the End without describing the Coming.

[8] Adolph Saphir, The Divine Unity of Scripture.


The great Apostle warmly commends his readers because they were waiting for the unveiling of Christ in His glory; and, lest anyone should misunderstand his meaning, the writer clinches the matter by affirming that God will confirm them unto the End of the Age; he even goes further: he is confident that they will be free from reproach[3] on the Day of the Lord Jesus Messiah, when another Age is ushered in. Revelation, End, and Day - all three terms indicate the same glorious event that the Corinthians were waiting for: the appearing of the glory of our Great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, which is the blessed hope of all Christians, as we have already seen.

A. T. Robertson comments, vol. 4, p. 71

[1] Literally "at the revelation" (R.V.).

[2] See chapter on the "Saints' Everlasting Rest" for an examination of some attempts to evade the obvious meaning of this chapter, 2 Thessalonians 1.

[3] "Unimpeachable, for none will have the right to impeach." Robertson and Plummer, quoted by A. T. Robertson.

[4] The same word is used in the following instances besides 1 Corinthians 1:7:  -

Romans 8:19 - The earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the Sons of God (R.V.).

Romans 8:23 - ourselves also.. waiting for our adoption, to wit the redemption of our body (R.V.).

Romans 8:25 - If we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it (R.V.).

Galatians 5:5 - We through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteous­ness (R.V.).

Philippians 3:20 - Whence also we look for the Saviour.

Hebrews 9:28 - And unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

[5] Verses 25, 50, 54; Isaiah 25:8.

[6] Verses 23, 18-19, 29-30


"in the year 69 of the first parusia
of the god Hadrian in Greece."

It is not too much to say that these facts about the language in which the N.T. was written must revolutionize some old and favorite ideas. In particular, when we open the Epistles to the Thessalonians, we know for certain that Paul, in speaking of the Parousia of the Lord, is referring to the arrival, nay, the arrival in triumph, of Christ the Lord. The humble believers in Thessalonica, when they witnessed the imposing parousiæ of the emperor or his representative, and when they read the words of the Apostle about the Parousia of the Lord, would remember with joy that their Emperor, Jesus the Messiah, will have His Parousia, which will be an overpowering manifestation of divine power and glory, full of joy for the righteous, full of terror for the impenitent and the ungodly, and opening up a new era for the world.

At 1 Thessalonians 2:19 this Parousia is associated with crowns and rewards for the servants of Christ; at 3:13 with an immense retinue (entourage) of the holy dead; at 4:15-17 with the resurrection of those saints, and the Lord's summons to His hosts for the decisive conflict; at 5:23 with the saints' holiness and preparation for that day; at 2 Thessalonians 2:1 it is mentioned with the assembling of the Elect as one of two events characterizing the Day of the Lord, and requiring to be fulfilled before anyone could say, "the Day of the Lord has come;" at 2:8 with the Glorious Appearing of Christ, and the overthrow of Antichrist; and at 1 Corinthians 15:23, 50-52, with the resurrection and transfiguration of the redeemed when the Kingdom is established.

Not different is the teaching of the other Apostles: James, who, according to Bartlet, Mayor, Zahn, and many other authorities, wrote about A.D. 45, a few years before the "revelation" in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 of a special coming "for the Church," deals with the Parousia of the Lord in a primitive almost O.T., way;[7] He who judges the ungodly and vindicates the elect is at hand. In 2 Peter 1:16 the Parousia is associated with the Coming and Kingdom of the Son of Man in the Gospels;[8] at 3:12, the Apostle desires that his readers should be found "looking for and hasting the coming of the day of God" (R.V. mg.), which is the same as the Day of the Lord in 5:10, the day that closes the present Dispensation of mercy, and ushers in the regeneration of nature, according to Isaiah and our Lord.[9] John in his First Epistle, at 2:28, associated the Parousia with the public manifestation of the Son, and this in 4:17 is called "the day of judgment." This majestic event requires that we abide continually in Him, so as to have ness in the great Day, and "not be ashamed before him at his parousia."

The suggestion of Darby, backed by the vigorous efforts of Kelly[10] and others, to prove from this most magnificent passage in 1 Thessalonians 4 that a secret coming, a secret resurrection and a secret rapture are portrayed, followed by the rise and reign of Antichrist, is among the sorriest in the whole history of freak exegesis. It is on a par with what the postmillennialists say at Revelation 20:4-6 - just as bad and just as dangerous to the truth of the Millennium; for if 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 can be fulfilled as secretly as Darbyists insist, then so can the classic passage in Revelation: it is an inconsistency to deny it. Admitting the principle of secrecy is selling the pass of the Pre-Millennial position. Anything becomes possible; the vagary of Dr. J. Stuart Russell and others that 1 Thessalonians 4 was fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem, and the lunar suggestion of Pastor Russell (or his successor) that it was accomplished in 1914. We are in a land of guesses, dreams and delusions that Christ and His Apostles sought strenuously to save us from. If anyone doubts this reasoning let him consider the following exposition of Revelation 19:2 by a leading post-millennialist, Dr. Agar Beet:[11]

Of particular interest is 2 Corinthians 7. "But the God who comforts the dejected comforted me by the arrival of Titus. Yes, and by more than his arrival"(vv. 6-7). According to the conjecture of Wieseler, cited by Weymouth, Titus walked in as Paul was writing. This cheered the Apostle, as did the report he had to give. This one passage completely demonstrates that arrival is a fundamental meaning of Parousia; Paul was comforted by the arrival, and the subsequent intercourse.

But the most damaging exposure of this new program and this new chart is the word of our Lord: "For like lightning that shoots from east to west, so will be the arrival (parousia) of the Son of Man."[16] Here, as in Thessalonians, "Christ comes as a Conqueror" and Rescuer, and his Parousia, far from being a prolonged period, is a single crisis breaking with the utmost suddenness; and, far from being followed by the rise of Antichrist, is preceded by it, and followed by the reign of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:15; 19:28). Shall we prefer the fond theories of men to this majestic declaration?

Having examined the word Parousia let us come to grips with the great passage in First Thessalonians.

First, concerning the occasion of Paul's oracle, I cannot do better than quote some remarks from Prof. Frame's masterly volume in International Critical Commentary (ICC) on Thessalonians:

If Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 professed to be giving some additional details concerning the relation of the sleeping and surviving saints at the well-known Coming of Christ, then he could not have made himself better understood, because, since the time the Apostle penned the words, no doubt has ever existed amongst his principal interpreters concerning the precise significance of his "revelation." But if his intention was to introduce - as theorists now insist - an entirely new coming of Christ, and a new resurrection of the saints - a coming and resurrection different from those found in the earlier Scriptures - then, though he was writing in a language that is said to be the most perfect instrument of accurate thought and expression that the world has seen, and though the Apostle himself was possessed of singular lucidity and great powers of reasoning, he failed miserably to make himself understood; since for nearly two thousand years all his best expositors failed to see his meaning, until recent theorists discovered, or thought that they had discovered, that Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 was setting forth a new resurrection earlier than the "first," and a new coming of Christ earlier than that in the Gospels.

The question of importance now is, have we any indication when this coming of Christ will take place? Pre-tribs insist that the passage teaches that Christ will come for His saints prior to the last of Daniel's Seventy Weeks, and especially before the Great Tribulation. This, however, is impossible, since the text contains no reference to the Great Tribulation and Daniel's prophecies, and this it must have had, to reach any such doctrine as that proposed. And Daniel's prophecies contain no reference to the Rapture, as such. It is clear, therefore, that the theorists in interpreting 1 Thessalonians 4 read their ideas into the passage; Paul did not put them there.

But though the prophecy in 1 Thessalonians 4 contains no reference to the Seventy Weeks, it nevertheless gives us a clue that enables us to overthrow the new theories. In that Scripture the Coming of the Lord synchronizes with the resurrection of the saints. The latter follows immediately upon the former. Nobody disputes this. Well, when do the dead rise, before or after the apocalyptic Week? We have already seen that, alike in the teaching of the Prophets and the Lord Jesus Christ, of Paul and the Apocalypse, the resurrection of the saints is located with the utmost definiteness at the Day of the Lord. Paul, far from revealing a new resurrection, insists that he is expounding an old one.

Here is the fundamental blunder, the crowning disaster of the new ideas on the Second Coming; the theorists quietly assume that all the passages on the resurrection of the saints can be brought forward in front of the Seventieth Week to suit their novel interpretation of the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4; but it is to be insisted on that such wresting of the Scriptures cannot be allowed. The time of the Rapture must stand or fall with the time of the saints' resurrection; and this is located at the Day of the Lord.

It remains to answer some objections to the obvious view that 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, will be fulfilled at the Day of the Lord. The theorists contend that, as there is no mention of signs and seals heralding the Advent in 1 Thessalonians 4, and as seals and signs are always associated with the Advent at the Day of the Lord, the former cannot be identical with the latter. But what these writers have overlooked is that there is no mention of seals and signs after the Coming in 1 Thessalonians 4. Not even in the following chapter, where the Day of the Lord is spoken of, is there any mention of preceding signs and seals: so that if from the absence of seals in 1 Thessalonians 4 it is legitimate to assert that the Coming in that chapter must precede the Day of the Lord, then the same must be conceded concerning the Advent in chapter 5, because there also is no mention made of signs and seals.[17] It must be different from the Day in Revelation 19:2 ff, and 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

Moreover, the absence of preceding signs and seals does not necessarily prove that the Advent in chapter 4 will precede the Day of the Lord by seven years; adopting the theorists' method of interpreting the text by itself, it would be just as reasonable to maintain that that Advent will occur seven years after the Day of the Lord, when all the signs and seals are done with!

The reason why there is no mention of preceding signs and seals in 1 Thessalonians 4 is because the Apostle does not profess to be describing the Second Coming. His theme, properly speaking, is not the Second Advent, but the relation of survivors to the dead at that event. In other words, the Apostle is dealing with a single aspect of the Coming, and that as it concerns the dead in Christ. And this avails also to explain why no mention is made of the bearing of the Advent upon the unbelieving world. Theorists of course find here a proof of their theory of two "second" Advents, but it is sufficient to say, in the words of Westcott on Hebrews 9:28: "Nothing indeed is said of the effect of Christ's Return upon the unbelieving. This aspect of its working does not fall within the scope of the writer."

Paul, I repeat, is not even describing in detail the hope as it concerns the Church; for there is no mention of the transfiguration of the believers - an essential feature of their blessedness; the Apostle says nothing again of the judgment-seat of Christ, and the recompense of the saints; nothing of the marriage-supper of the Lamb. These aspects are all omitted, as also the relation of the Advent to Israel and the world, simply because the Apostle had no occasion to raise them. He was dealing with a company of Christians who already knew the main facts of Christ's Coming from the Apostle's own oral teaching, but had doubts about the place that the dead whom they mourned would have at the Advent. But to argue from the Apostle's silence upon other points - such as the destruction of Antichrist, the judgment of the ungodly, and the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom - that therefore these events do not occur at this time is an unreasonable attitude. Just as logical would it be to contend that since there is no mention of the transfiguration of the saints and the marriage-supper of Christ, those events must be conceived of as occurring some time later.

It is well-known that post-millennialists made much of Paul's silence at this point upon the question of the establishment of the Kingdom of Christ at the Advent. "Paul does not teach in 1 Thessalonians 4 that the millennium will follow the advent." So they argue - just as our theorists do. The reply that Alford and Faussett gave to such unreasonable exegesis is as applicable to the reasoning of our theorists as it was to that of the antagonists of a literal millennium. Alford writes in his commentary:

It remains to give Zahn's statement of the setting and the argument of 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 5:11 many will be glad to have this illuminating extract from one of the great theological works of the age. I cite from International New Testament (INT) vol. 1, pages 221-222, and page 253:[19]

If Paul believed that the Thessalonians would be raptured to heaven some years before the Day of the Lord, what a chance he had at 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 of asserting his belief! How easy to have said, "the Day of the Lord is coming, but, thank God, you will never see it, since years before its arrival, you will be raptured to heaven." Instead of that he has left no doubt whatever that Christians will exist on earth to see that Day;[20] it is the day they wait for - day of joy for the redeemed, of wrath for the impenitent. Of joy, because He who comes is the Saviour who will gather the saints to Himself and complete their joy; of wrath, because He who comes is also the Judge who will take vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, whenever He shall have come to be glorified in His saints, and admired. in all them that believe.[21]

It will thus be seen that according to Paul the day of the Lord's Coming will have a two-fold aspect. For unbelievers Christ will come as a thief: for Christians He comes as the Master to reckon with His servants, and induct them into the inheritance. It was ever thus that the Lord Himself preached the doctrine of His Second Coming - not two distinct advents, separated by a number of years, but one single Advent with a two-fold bearing - upon His faithful people, who look with humble yet joyous expectancy to His Return, and upon the false and unbelieving who say, "where is the promise of His coming?"[22]

It is curious how one can realize this and yet cling to the pre-trib theories of the Advent. Sir R. Anderson, for example, who is the ablest advocate of the new theories of the Parousia, used an illustration some time ago that not only threw light on our Lord's parable of His Coming as a thief, but was also an apposite commentary on Paul's use of the same figure; and, withal, it shows how unnecessary is the theory of two "second" Comings. He said:[23]

[1] So Weymouth and Goodspeed; Moffatt has "arrival;" A.V., R.V. have "coming."

[2] John 14:3; Matthew 13:30; 24:31, 40-41; Mark 13:27; Luke 17:34-35; Rev. 20:4; 14:16.

[3] Lest the word "final" should be misunderstood, I remark that Canon Faussett held ardently to the kingly rule of Christ, following the Advent in Revelation 19:2, and 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18.

[4] The Greek quotations are omitted.

[5] Even Cremer, vol. 9, p. 403, could only say: "How the term came to be adopted it would be difficult to show." He inclines to think it was an adapta­tion of the language of the synagogue. In another note Diessmann says that the translation "coming again" for Parousia is incorrect.

[6] Cf., for instance, Justin Martyr, Dialogue with the Jew Trypho, c. 14 (Otto, p. 54), "the first parusia of Christ," and similarly in c. 52 (p. 174). The Christian era was afterwards reckoned from the first parusia.

[7] James 5:7, 8; on verse 7 Alford says: "Be patient therefore ('therefore' is a general reference to the prophetic strain of the previous passage: judgment on your oppressors being so near, and your own part, as the Lords' righteous, being that of unresistingness) brethren... until... the coming of the Lord."

[8] Matthew 16:28 and 17:1-8. This is the interpretation of the Trans­figuration by both Kelly and Gaebelein in their commentaries on Matthew. It is not so sure as they think.

[9] Isaiah 65 and 66:22; Matthew 19:28.

[10] "Brayings of ignorance," "antagonists of the truth," "it is mere and ignorant unbelief" and scores of others were the grossly offensive expressions used by Kelly of his opponents, to browbeat his readers into acceptance of his distorting exegesis. Not only that, the influence of Satan was attributed to those who rejected the Secret Rapture or the distinctions between the Coming and the Day, Appearing, and Revelation of Christ. Now half the school is doing it!

Kelly could be excellent - when expounding the truth; Spurgeon said of him that "he was born for the universe, but narrowed by Darbyism." But in espousing ecclesiastical and prophetic error he used most of the tricks of controversy.

In the writings of Dr. Gaebelein an American interpreter of Kelly, the same deplorable spirit is often found. It is no pleasure to say this, for the author's Harmony of the Prophetic Word has much in it that is excellent.

The present writer is glad to testify that in what he had read of Darby on prophecy the courteous and urbane spirit has been admirable. He was often ingenuous in making ruinous admissions. Of course Darby could use another blade.

[11] The Second Advent ("British Weekly" extras), 1887, p. 30; see also the author's Last Things in Fern Words (1913).

[12] Touching the Coming, p. 168.

[13] Robertson, vol. 4, p. 49.

[14] Very appropriately works of fiction have taken up the theory; see Sydney Watson's In the Twinkling of an Eye and The Mark of The Beast.

[15] Biblico-theological Lexicon of N.T. Greek, p. 238.

[16] Matthew 24:27 (Moffatt). On the first use of the word Parousia Plummer says (on 24:3): "It intimates that the return of the Messiah in glory will not result, like the First Coming, in a transitory stay, but will inaugurate an abiding presence" (p. 329). This admirable note about sums up the truth of modern research on the Parousia: a triumphant arrival of our Lord followed by His presence in His kingly rule. J. Weiss following Deissmann, says, that Parousia "does not signify Return, but Arrival." (Derste Korintherbrief, p. 357) With this qualification Plummer's note may be accepted.

[17] This fact is even used by some to prove that Paul's teaching here contra­dicts that of our Lord, because the Lord spoke of preceding signs: contradicts also the teaching of 2 Thessalonians 2, where signs are also mentioned.

[18] I must acknowledge my obligations here to the commentaries of Milligan and Findlay.

[19] It should be explained that the last paragraph was written later by Zahn to defend the Thessalonian Epistles from a charge of contradiction. He shows their unity, and their agreement with our Lord's teaching. Its inclusion here seems apposite.

[20] On the "times and seasons "Lightfoot observes:

Here chronoi denotes the period which must elapse before and in the consummation of this great event, in other words it points to the date while kairoi refers to the occurrences which will mark the occasion, the signs by which its approach will be ushered in (comp. Matthew 16:3, the signs of the times). (Notes on Epistles, p. 71.)

Anderson, Forgotten Truths, p. 71, says that the Apostle after speaking of the Coming as a present hope, "went on to speak of the day of the Lord as pertaining to the 'times and seasons' of Israel's national history." But the Apostle did no such thing; neither Israel nor "Israel's national history" is referred to once in the whole passage. The phrase "times and seasons" was clearly used by our Lord in Acts 1:7 to discourage knowing the date of the Return or measuring the period that precedes it. The question of the Apostles was most natural: the Lord's answer most appropriate. At 1 Thessalonians 5:1 a similar question is asked, and practically the same answer is given: no date fixing, no measuring of the period! The Day comes as a trap: the Lord as a thief to the careless. Be not careless, but watch. If only students would learn the lesson and quit their guesses and calculations! Sir R. Anderson, be it said, has given an excellent example on this point.

The Editor of "The Morning Star" (June 15th, 1913) states that "these times and seasons," with their prophetic burden, the Thessalonians 'knew perfectly.'" But this is exactly what they did not know at all. They even request information about them from the Apostle; what they did know perfectly was that the day of the Lord's coming was to come as a thief at night; and, the Apostle implies, this very fact of its suddenness rendered any disclosure or calculation concerning the intervening period until the advent unnecessary and impossible. The truth is, the writer of this article set out to correct the commentators, without having perceived the meaning of the Apostle (pp. 111-12).

[21] 2 Thessalonians 1:10; this chapter, not the Great Tribulation, explains the "wrath" of 1 Thessalonians 5:9.

[22] Luke 12:41-8; Matthew 25:43-4.

[23] Things to Come, vol. 4, p. 91.

[24] Dean Alford, in loco.

[25] A. T. Robertson comments:

It will be a grand fiasco, this advent of the man of sin. Paul here uses both epiphaneia (epiphany, elsewhere in N.T. in the pastorals, familiar to the Greek mind for a visit of a god) and parousia (more familiar to the Jewish mind, but common in the papyri) of the second coming of Christ.

"The mere appearance of Christ destroys the adversary" (Vincent). And Zahn says:  -

Epiphaneia, manifestation, which is not at all superfluous, along with parousia, but, like the expression "breath of his mouth," indicates the outward manifestation of the coming of Christ (INT, vol. 1, p. 255.)


On this expression Moffatt remarks in Expositor's Greek Testament (EGT) on Thessalonians: "The present age is utter night, as contemporary rabbis taught; the age to come is all day. Meantime faith is to hold fast through this night." William Kelly says: "The Apostle elsewhere insists that 'the day is at hand' (Rom. 13). What day? The day of the Lord of course" (Second Coming, p. 174).

And on our passage Moule remarks beautifully in The Expositor's Bible:

There cannot be any doubt about the meaning of "in that Day" in the above-mentioned passages. It is the day of revelation, when persecutors are judged, Christians gain relief from persecution, and marvel at the Lord when they see Him as He is; it is the day of rewards and resurrection; the day of the Glorious Appearing, which the saints love, because it is their blessed hope (Titus 2:13).

In Christ's Coming Again Kelly admits that the passages in 2 Timothy refer to the Day of the Lord, but contends that it is the rewarding that is in view, not the Rapture (pp. 59-61, 85). But he cannot retreat by that path; four barriers and more bar the way: Luke 14:14, Revelation 22:12, 11:18, and 1 Corinthians 4:5, 8. Escape there is none.


On the expression "days of the Son of Man" Zahn has the following excellent comment:[5]

This connects Revelation 11:18 and Luke 14:14 with the Parousia and resurrection in 1 Thessalonians 2:19, to the ruin of the whole scheme that interposes an interval of several years between the Coming in 1 Thessalonians 2:19 [and] 4:15, and the rewarding of the saints at the Day of the Lord.


Here we have the well-known O.T. formula for the Day that closes the present Age, and ushers in the Messianic Kingdom. It is a day of judgment upon the ungodly, but of blessing upon the righteous. Does Paul ever link this Day with the hope and final salvation of the Church? He does.

Zahn in Introduction to the New Testament (INT) (vol. 1, p. 278) explains thus:

Almost all the scientific commentaries are agreed that this passage, indeed, the whole of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, was written to correct the error current amongst the Thessalonians that the Day of the Lord had already come.[7] By means of an Epistle attributed to Paul, or by a pretended revelation of the Spirit, teachers were asserting erroneously that the Day had come. The Apostle addresses himself to overthrow this delusion, and he does so by showing that before the Day of the Lord may arrive certain definite events must precede it: in particular, the Apostasy, and the revelation of the Man of Sin.

What concerns us chiefly, however, is the theorists' explanation of this passage.[8] They assert that the Coming of the Lord is to take place before the revelation of Antichrist, and several years before the Day of the Lord. The passage on the contrary is a thorough denial, not only of the particular delusion that afflicted the Thessalonians, but also of the one espoused by modern theorists.

The new interpretation is erroneous for the following reasons:[9]

(a) The Epistles to the Thessalonians nowhere teach that the Coming will take place before the Day of the Lord. The passage in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 locates the Coming at the resurrection; and the resurrection in Scripture is everywhere located at the Day of the Lord. Nowhere is this more clearly asserted than in 1 Corinthians 15: 54 and Isaiah 25:8. The resurrection of the saints synchronizes with Israel's deliverance and conversion.

(b) In 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18, the Parousia is represented as a triumphant arrival of our Lord as King, assembling His hosts for the conflict with the powers of this world and the rescue of the Elect. This is at the Day of the Lord.

(c) In 2 Thessalonians 5:1-6, where Paul deals with the Advent in its relation to the living, he clearly presupposes that the Day approaches for all the living.

(d) In 2 Thessalonians 1, Paul had taught in unmistakable terms that it is at the Revelation of the Lord in great power that suffering saints will be recompensed with rest, and persecutors with tribulation. They were suffering; therefore the Day had not come, for it brings relief.

(e) The theorists' interpretation is erroneous because this very chapter shows that Antichrist is to be slain by Christ at His Coming (Parousia, verse 8), whereas they assert that the Parousia precedes even the rise of Antichrist. And the presence of the word Appearing only makes matters worse for the theorists. Prof. Frame says: "The words 'epiphaneia' and 'parousia' are ultimately synonymous: the point is that the manifest presence itself is sufficient to destroy the 'Anomos,'"  - lawless one. The truth of this was clearly demonstrated by the extracts from Deissmann in our last chapter. Not only that, we saw in our chapter on the Glorious Appearing that again and again the Appearing is represented as the realization of the Church's hope; and Titus 2:13, proves that the Glorious Appearing is the very hope itself. On 2 Thessalonians 2:8, Canon Faussett remarks: "The first outburst of His advent - the first gleam of His presence is enough to abolish utterly all traces of Antichrist, as darkness disappears before the dawning day . . . the word for appearing (English Version here 'the brightness') plainly refers to the coming itself."

What we have in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 is simply another aspect of the one Glorious Appearing described in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, and Revelation 19:11 ff., and referred to in Titus 2:13.

(f) It is not to be wondered at that the new program of the End cannot survive a natural interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3. According to Paul, the Day of the Lord's Coming will be preceded by an apostasy in the Church, and the arrival of Antichrist. At Christ's Coming the Man of Sin shall be sent to his doom. The theorists, however, teach that the Parousia of our Lord will be followed by the Apostasy and the rise of Antichrist; and Paul is invoked to support this ludicrous scheme of the future!

Even this is not all; for it must be said that whilst pre-tribs do not teach the delusion that the false teachers in Thessalonica taught, they do sponsor the same ideas as rendered that delusion possible: that Christ might come secretly, that His Coming might Precede the arrival of the Apostasy and of Antichrist, that He might come at any moment, and that tribulation might continue for saints after His Coming, were precisely some of the presuppositions that rendered possible the propagation of the delusion that the Day of the Lord had already come. And all are pillars in the- pre-trib edifice. But Paul informs us that they were false teachers who taught thus, and he teaches that certain predicted events must precede the Day of the Lord's Coming.

If we do likewise, we teach the Lord's Coming in a Scriptural way; if we do not, we are misguided and misleading teachers.

(g) The theorists' explanation requires us to believe that the real delusion at Thessalonica was that in the brief space of a few months between the First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians, the whole "pre-trib" program of the End was believed to have been fulfilled. We know that the Day of the Lord was believed to have actually arrived; very well then; if they held "pre-trib" views after receiving and reading 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18, they necessarily believed, when opening the Second Epistle, that the Secret Coming, the Secret Rapture, and the Secret resurrection of that passage, ex hypothesi, had first taken place: and so secretly that they knew nothing of it; then the interval of seven years or more with the doings of Antichrist, and then the Glorious Appearing of the Lord - all had gone by in the course of half a dozen moons, and they were left lamenting

What the Thessalonians were deluded into believing was bad enough in all conscience, but this explanation of it is history, exegesis, and eschatology for the credulous.

(h) If, as the theorists insist, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, instructed the Thessalonians to expect the Coming of the Lord several years or decades before the Day of the Lord, why does not Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 appeal to the Coming or Parousia (with the resurrection and Rapture) as a necessary precursor of the Day of the Lord? Why did he not say - as the theorists invariably say:[10]

To most minds no doubt will remain from a consideration of Paul's use of "the Day," "in that Day," "the Day of the Lord," and "Messiah's Day," that all are synonymous expressions for the day of the Parousia, which closes the present Age, and ushers in the Age to Come; it is the day of resurrection, of reward, of rest for the saints; but of judgment and condemnation for the impenitent.

And a study of the rest of the N.T. confirms the teaching that the Day has no terrors for the saints, for it is the day for the realization of their dearest hopes. In Hebrews 10:25, it is held out as a day that concerns the Church, and, in verse 37, the writer, obviously referring to the same event, says: "For in a little, a very little now, The Coming one will arrive without delay."[15] Peter, in 2 Peter 1:19, holds out the Day as a day of hope for the Christian, terminating the present darkness;[16] and at 3:12, the Apostle speaks of the saints as "expecting and helping to hasten the coming (parousia) of the day of God,"[17] at the regeneration of Nature, according to Isaiah 65:17-25, 66:22-23, Matthew 19:28, Acts 3:21, and Romans 8:18-22.[18] On this Canon Faussett aptly remarks:

[1] I follow here the example of Bishop Lightfoot in substituting "Messiah" for "Christ" in these texts. The universal use of the latter as a proper name for our Lord has obscured the fact that almost always in the N.T. "Messiah" or "the Christ" would give the sense and the "atmosphere" better. What a lot of fresh meaning, for instance, Lightfoot imparts to a familiar text when he renders it, "we preach a Messiah crucified." (Cited in the Study Bible 1 Corinthians; where the Bishop is also quoted as saying that "it is not so much a name as an office that is referred to.") So also is it in reference to the "Day of Christ," etc.

In his work, The Lord From Heaven, Anderson says: "I would take sides with those who refuse to believe that ' Christ ' is ever used merely as a proper name. With the Jew it was a sacred title of great solemnity; and it is hard to believe that a Hebrew Christian could have come to regard it in any better light "(p. ro5).

The texts are otherwise given as in the RX., except 1 Corinthians 5:5, where the latest edition of the Greek Text (Nestle's 14th Edition, Stuttgart, 1930) omits the word "Jesus;" so also the American 1911 Bible," Westcott and Hort, Goodspeed, D. Smith, Rutherford, CGT, and ICC.

[2] Matthew 7:22(R.V.); cf. Luke 17:31. "A technical eschatological expression derived from the O.T. prophetic literature; cf., e.g., Malachi 3:17-18; it is of frequent occurrence in apocalyptic literature e.g., in the Book of Enoch (cf. 45: 3, 'On that day mine Elect One will sit on the throne of glory and make choice among their deeds'). Cf. Matthew 24:36." (Canon Box: The Cent. B., Matthew, new edition.) Moffatt translates the three occurrences in 2 Timothy by "the great Day."

[3] Cf. Darby's translation of these passages.

[4] "But there was still another reason why the title 'Son of Man' was specially appropriate to Jesus. The name Messiah denoted the Lord of the Messianic age in His capacity as Ruler; in reality it was applicable to the person so predestinated only when His enthronement had taken place, not before it "(Dalman, The Words of Jesus, p. 265). Kelly defines "the day of Christ" as the day "when they that suffer shall reign with Him" (Revelation, p. 236). See further quotations from Darby, Trotter, Kelly and C. H. M. in chapter 1 above.

[5] Zahn-Kommentar, in loco; the conclusion of the quotation is from the note on p. 601.

[6] In their work on Thessalonians, Messrs. Hogg and Vine say that at chapter 5:1, "the apostle proceeds to describe the effect of that revelation upon the world;" what is exact is that at 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 the dead (in Christ) are in view; in verses 1-6 the living.

[7]The translation "is just at hand" is to be rejected, for the same word is rendered "present" in every other place in the N.T. Moffatt translates "is already here;" Weymouth has "is now here;" Goodspeed has "has already come." Zahn says: "The rendering of enesteken, 'is immediately at hand,' or 'is beginning,' should be abandoned, because unsupported by grammar and by usage. As is well known, the present is called by the grammarians ho enestos chronos, and in business transactions he enestosa hemera, was the regular use of ' this day'"(INT, vol. 1, p. 235).

[8] See Notes on 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8, by A. C. Gaebelein (NY., 1901), and Kelly Christ's Coming Again - a volume that defends to the last ditch "the secret Rapture" and the other novelties of the School. It is characterized by much sophistry and special pleading, and, at times, by grossly offensive vigor.

A saint in the American Church, the late Dr. W. J. Erdman, wrote a tract called The Time of the End, in which, with courtesy, even urbanity, he examined Darby's theories. It was easy to show that the marriage in Matthew 25 and Revelation 19 is located at the Day of the Lord, for that is where Anderson, Marsh and Bullinger, following the Scripture, located it. Here is Kelly's outburst: "No, my brother, prejudice and passion have misled you. The marriage is in heaven and before that day. Dare you deny it in flat contradiction of God's word? Tremble for yourself, and beware of such temerity." Yet this is mild compared with the handling of Newton, Tregelles and the "Apostolic Fathers." The odium theologicum is without parallel in serious theological literature of recent decades. Kelly has a real grievance against the literature of the second century; according to him and other theorists the whole Church up to A.D. 96, when John wrote the Apocalypse believed in a secret Pre­tribulation Rapture; yet within a decade or two it has gone: spurlos verschwinden: has vanished without leaving a single trace behind.

Picture the miracle involved in believing that, a decade or two after Darby's death in 1882 the whole Brethren movement, in all countries, is found to have given up the Secret Rapture, and is looking only for the Glorious Appear­ing: and not a vestige of Protest or controversy or any such thing! This is the miracle that Brethren want us to swallow, about the abandonment of the Apostolic hope by the children and grandchildren of the Apostles. There is an easier explanation: Our Lord in Matthew 24, Paul in Titus 2:13 (and everywhere else), John in Revelation 1:7, and Peter in his Epistles, made the Glorious Appearing the hope of Christians; the secret, pre-tribulation Rapture is a Gentile conceit of the nineteenth century. And no amount of vituperation against the Apostolic Fathers, Tregelles, and Newton can make it anything else.

[9] This text is especially interesting because it was here that Mr. Tweedy of Demerara, and Mr. Darby thought they found a secret Rapture, several years before the Great Tribulation. (See Kelly's Christ's Coming Again and R. Cameron's Scriptural Truth About the Lord's Return.)

[10] See A. J. Pollock, p. 19: "Why should he beseech them by the rapture [sic]? For the obvious reason that as the rapture would take place before the day of the Lord could set in that day could not be present."

[11] Here is a typical extract from Trotter, and it is representative of the school (p. 283): The one (the Parousia) is all brightness and joy; the other (the Day of the Lord) is all gloom, and darkness and terror." And see chapter 1 of this volume. What a travesty of the Apostolic note of joy at the Coming of the Day, with its light and blessing for all believers, banishing the gloom and darkness of this Age, when He is absent.

[12] 2 Thessalonians 2:8; cf. Revelation 19:20; Titus 2:13.

[13] Revelation 19:1-20; cf. Matthew 24:51-25:1: "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be like," etc.

[14] I have omitted the intervening words on the instruments of deception, to bring the conclusion into greater relief, and sooner before the mind. The sense is in no way altered.

[15] Moffatt; so Weymouth.

[16] "We have also the prophetic word made sure; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed in your hearts, as unto a lamp that shineth in a dark place till the day dawn and the day-star arise." This is the version of an American revision company in 1911, whose secretary was C. I. Scofield. It followed the punctuation adopted by Tregelles. Despite the truculent opposition of Kelly (Christ's Coming Again, part 2, p. 7) I think the above version gives the sense better. Of course Kelly, fighting to save a secret rapture several years before the Day, must get rid of a text that presupposes that the believer's path will be illumined by the study of prophecy until the Day dawns; for his scheme presupposes that, after the Rapture (represented, ex hypothesi, by the morning star) there will follow the rise of Antichrist and the blackest night this world has ever seen; and no one can tell us how long this "dawn "is going to last, whether 1260 days or 1260 years!

It should be added that we have no quarrel with the beautiful A.V. here only with its misuse; yet the other is clearer.

[17] Weymouth.

[18] That the Day of the Lord embraces not merely the day of Messiah's Advent, but also the period of His subsequent reign seems to be admitted by A. B. Davidson. In his Theology of the O.T. (pp. 381-382), he says: -

The day of the Lord widens out into a period, homogeneous, no doubt, but extensive (p. 382).

Again: -

Though the "day of the Lord," as the expression implies, was at first conceived as a definite and brief period of time, being an era of judgment and salvation, it many times broadened out to be an extended period. From being a day it became an epoch. This arose from the fact that under the terms day of the Lord, that day, or that time, was included not only the crisis itself, but that condition of things which followed upon the crisis (p. 381).

It is in this light that 2 Peter 3:10-13 must be interpreted; at Acts. 3:21 and 2 Peter 1:11, it is Messiah's Kingdom that is in view; Delitzsch, on Isaiah 65-66 well says that there is a coalescence of the Messianic Reign and the eternal state. Only Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:23-28, and John in the Apocalypse 20:1-21:8, distinguish the two Eras.

See Anderson: Forgotten Truths, p. 70: "The Day of the Lord is an era." And Dr. Oesterley says: "Sometimes the 'Day' is used in a wide sense for the new era itself;" The Last Things, p. 14.

[19] Votes on 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8 (p. 5).

[20] The Hebrews Epistle, p. 85, etc.

[21] Will the Church pass'through the Great Tribulation, pp. 11,, 13, 28; Scofield Reference Bible, p. 1212, What do the Prophets Say? (p. 122).

[22] Unfavorable that is, to an "any-moment" Coming and Rapture, at Christ's Day, without previous signs.

[23] Philippians 1:6, 9, 10; 2:16; 1 Corinthians 1:7-8; 2 Corinthians 1:14.

[24] Appearing and Revelation are now in the second stage: they are actually being applied to the Secret Rapture; see Vine, The Rapture and the Great Tribulation, pp. 23-6. Their being made a period, covering the times of lawlessness and the rise and triumph of Antichrist, is only a question of a little more exegetical persecution.
* Alexander Reese was an American Presbyterian Pastor and Missionary. His book The Approaching Advent Of Christ was originally published by: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1937. The book is out of print but copies sometimes can be found on eBay and, also try our used book search page.