Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Response to "The Hope of Israel vs. That Blessed Hope"

The following is a response to an article written by Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr. (which can be read here: For a fuller response to the so-called "Acts 28:28" dispensational position, see my first two blog articles from March.  

What is "The Hope of Israel?" 

Clyde begins his article with the following claim: "During his Acts period ministry, Paul was bound with a chain for “the hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20), but immediately following his proclamation to the Jews in Acts 28:28, he was in bonds for “the mystery of the gospel” (6:18-20)." 

This, I believe, is a false dichotomy. Paul's ministry before his imprisonment in Rome involved the body of Christ just as much as it did after his imprisonment in Rome. It would be a misleading oversimplification of the facts to say or imply that Paul's ministry was "Israel-centered" before his imprisonment, and "Gentile-centered" afterwards, or that his ministry before his imprisonment involved only truths that could be found in Moses and the Prophets, whereas his ministry afterwards had to do exclusively with previously unrevealed secret truths. Although this may or may not be Clyde's belief, the entire article seems to imply such a false dichotomy. 

So what is the "hope/expectation of Israel" referred to by Paul in Acts 28:20? It should be noted that even IF the "hope" of which Paul speaks here is something which distinctly and exclusively belonged to Israel, it would not mean that it was the exclusive or primary focus of Paul's ministry up to this point. However, although each section of Clyde's article begins with the words, "the Hope of Israel..." Clyde never actually defends his claim that the "hope of Israel" of which Paul speaks is "Israel's earthly inheritance" or "the re-establishment of Israel's kingdom." This is simply presupposed by Clyde throughout his article, and what he says in each section is simply meant to further confirm this position. However, nowhere does Paul identify this hope as such. Instead, there are contextual indications that the hope/expectation Paul had in view here is simply the resurrection of the dead. And as such, this hope of Israel would not be exclusively or distinctively Israel's hope. Rather, this hope would be what may be called a "trans-administrational hope." 

After Paul was arrested in Jerusalem (Acts 21:27-36), he was given the opportunity to speak before the council (Acts 22:30). Just a few verses later, we read:  

"Then when Paul noticed that part of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, he shouted out in the council, 'Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead!' When he said this, an argument began between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (For the Sadducees say there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.)" (Acts 23:6-8, NET Bible).  

What is the resurrection of the dead? It is simply the event by which human beings who have died are restored to a living existence. Notice that Paul doesn't say "I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of believing Israelites so that they may inherit the earth." No, it's simply "the resurrection of the dead," as a basic and general truth. The basic truth that Paul is affirming here before the council is the same basic truth that the Sadducees denied (just as they denied the basic truth of the existence of angels and spirits). 

In the next chapter, Paul spoke the following words while standing before Felix: 

"But I confess this to you, that I worship the God of our ancestors according to the Way (which they call a sect), believing everything that is according to the law and that is written in the prophets. I have a hope in God (a hope that these men themselves accept too) that there is going to be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust." (Acts 24:14-15)  

Here again it is clearly the resurrection of the dead that is in view. And it is not just the resurrection of believing Israelites, but the resurrection of "both the just and the unjust." Every human being is in one of these two categories, and we'll look at further evidence a little later that Paul's understanding of the resurrection at this point in his ministry was that it was all-inclusive in scope.  

Paul goes on to say in vv. 19-21, "But there are some Jews from the province of Asia who should be here before you and bring charges, if they have anything against me. Or these men here should tell what crime they found me guilty of when I stood before the council, other than this one thing I shouted out while I stood before them: 'I am on trial before you today concerning the resurrection of the dead.'" 

Paul refers to this hope or expectation once more in Acts 26:6-8, while standing before King Agrippa:

"And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors, a promise that our twelve tribes hope to attain as they earnestly serve God night and day. Concerning this hope the Jews are accusing me, Your Majesty! Why do you people think it is unbelievable that God raises the dead?"  

From these passages it seems evident that the resurrection of the dead is THE "hope of Israel" that Paul had in mind in Acts 28:20. Are there other things that could be referred to as Israel's hope or expectation? Certainly; God himself is said to be the hope of Israel on certain occasions (Ps. 39:7; Jer. 14:8; 17:3; 50:7). And reigning on the earth as priests and kings during the next eon is another. But based on the context, it is clearly the resurrection of the dead that Paul has in view when he speaks of "the hope of Israel."  

Now, when Paul spoke of "the resurrection of the dead," what exactly did he have in mind? We know that, years before Paul was arrested in Jerusalem, put in chains and given the opportunity to address the council, he had already written to the body of Christ concerning the resurrection of the dead. This subject is, of course, addressed at length by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. And in this remarkable chapter, we find that the resurrection is something that concerns every dead and dying member of Adam's race. Consider, for example, vv. 20-22: "But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man. For just as in Adam all are dying, so also in Christ shall all will be made alive."  

For Paul, the resurrection of the dead - i.e., the vivifying or making alive of those who are dead - was not just something that concerned Israel only (although it was an important hope or expectation of Israel). The abolishing of death (which will involve the resurrection of all who are dead) is something that concerns all humanity, both circumcised Israelites and uncircumcised Gentiles. Thus, for Paul, the resurrection of the dead - although something that could legitimately be referred to as being Israel's expectation - was not Israel's expectation exclusively. At the time Paul spoke the words recorded for us in Acts 28:20, the resurrection of the dead was clearly something anticipated by both Israel AND the body of Christ (i.e., the one body of Christ consisting of all who believed Paul's "evangel of the uncircumcision," and of which Paul considered himself a member).  

In light of the evidence, then, I think it would be a mistake for anyone to assert or imply that the hope/expectation of Israel which Paul had in view in Acts 28:20 was "Israel's earthly inheritance" or "the re-establishment of Israel's kingdom." The hope that Paul had in mind was a more general and fundamental truth than this - i.e., the resurrection of the dead. But why would Paul refer to the resurrection of the dead as "the hope of Israel?" 

The answer is simply that Paul was (wisely) emphasizing the common ground that he had with the unbelieving Israelites to whom he spoke at this time. By the time Paul spoke to these Jewish leaders, the truth of the resurrection of the dead had become a "trans-administrational truth." Although Israel and the body of Christ will be enjoying different allotments (one terrestrial, the other celestial), members of both groups MUST first be resurrected/vivified by Christ in order to enjoy their respective allotments. It's also true that, although the resurrection had become a common hope shared by both believing Israelites and members of the body of Christ, it was Israel's hope and expectation long before it was the hope of non-Israelites (to whom this truth had only been recently revealed, relatively speaking).  

Thus, although much of Clyde's article simply takes for granted that the "hope" or "expectation" of Israel that Paul had in view concerned the re-establishment of Israel's kingdom and the millennial reign, I think this view is contrary to the larger context and the circumstances involved in Paul's being in chains.  

Clyde goes on to say, "This means that, from the beginning of Paul’s ministry (Acts 9:20) to the setting aside of national Israel (Acts 28:28), a period of about twenty-one years, he suffered for Israelites; but after he had delivered God’s final appeal to Israel as a nation, he became a prisoner for the “Gentiles” (3:1)." 

First, we are not told that Israel was "set aside" in Acts 28:28. This is something that is simply assumed by proponents of the Acts 28:28 dispensational position. There is no more indication that Israel was set aside by God when Paul spoke to the Jewish leaders in Rome than there is that it was set aside by God when the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, or during the Jewish Revolt of 135 AD. As Charles Peart notes, "There isn't one shred of Scriptural evidence that anything unusual occurred in Acts 28 except that a few more Jewish leaders of synagogues refused to believe that Jesus is their Messiah - as many are also doing to this very day." Instead, there is good reason to believe that Israel as a nation had become calloused and was "set aside" by God before Paul even wrote his first epistle, or even before Christ appeared to him on the Damascus road. Second, Paul's "Acts ministry" involved the formation of the body of Christ, and he suffered for uncircumcised Gentiles just as much as he suffered for Israelites during this time. And there is no indication that Paul's suffering for Israelites during the Acts period was disconnected from his ministry involving the evangel of the uncircumcision and the formation of the body of Christ.  

We must keep in mind that Paul himself was an Israelite of the tribe of Benjamin (Phil. 3:4-5), and his love for his Jewish brethren according to the flesh motivated him to reach out to them on several occasions. He no doubt longed to see some of his brethren according to the flesh come to a knowledge of the truth and believe his evangel of the uncircumcision, thereby becoming members of the body of Christ just as he had become. But in order for this to happen, it was necessary that they come to a knowledge of the truth concerning Jesus' identity - i.e., that he is the promised Messiah and offspring of David, and that he had been raised from the dead. But such basic truths as this (concerning the identity of Christ and his resurrection) were just as much a part of Paul's evangel after his imprisonment in Rome as they were before. Consider, for example, the following words Paul wrote to Timothy in his final letter: "Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal" (2 Tim. 2:8-9).  

"The Hope of Israel Anticipates the Coming of Jesus Christ" 

The next section of Clyde's article involves what I believe to be yet another false dichotomy. In this section, the underlying presupposition seems to be that Paul couldn't have used different words to refer to the same event. What's interesting is that the Bible translation Clyde uses for this article (apparently the KJV) makes it seem like there is only one word being used by Paul in the passages quoted throughout this section: a single word translated "coming." But this is simply not the case. In fact, in the first three passages from 1 Corinthians that Clyde quotes, THREE different Greek words (apokalupsiserchomai and parousia) are used by Paul to refer to what Clyde would agree is the same event. Had Clyde used a more accurate translation here (such as the CLNT), it would've been more evident to the reader that Paul used multiple words to refer to the same event, and the force of the "contrast" that Clyde was apparently trying to create would've been lost, thereby undermining his case. But the fact is that Paul clearly used multiple words to refer to the same event, and there is no good reason to believe that the word epiphaneia (as used in his prison epistles) must refer to a different event.  

The word epiphaneia is used by Paul in 2 Thess. 2:8, 1 Tim 6:14, 2 Tim. 1:10, 2 Tim 4:1, 8 and Titus 2:13. It is this word which, in Titus 2:13, Clyde thinks refers to something distinct from the coming of Christ in 1 Thess. 4:15. But what's interesting is that, even in these examples, the same word doesn't refer to the same event in every passage. The epiphaneia referred to in 2 Tim. 1:10 is not the same event as that referred to in Titus 2:13. And even though the word epiphaneia appears in 2 Thess. 2:8, Clyde  apparently believes that 2 Thess. 2:8 refers to the same event that Paul speaks of in 1 Thess. 4:15 (which, according to Clyde, is Christ's coming to establish his kingdom on earth)! It is clear, then, that Paul was quite flexible in the words he used in referring to events that are the same and events that are different, and we can't simply assume that one word refers to one event and another word refers to another. And the fact that the first time Paul uses the word epiphaneia is in 2 Thess. 2:8-9 is significant, for it tells us that this word is completely neutral with regards to where Christ's "advent" (his "manifestation" or "showing forth") takes place. The word could just as naturally refer to his glorious presence in the air (as described in 1 Thess. 4:13-18) as it could refer to his presence elsewhere.  

All of this being the case, there is simply no good reason to believe that the epiphaneia referred to by Paul in his prison letters is something distinct from the event described in 1 Cor. 1:7, 1 Thess. 2:19, 3:13, 4:13-18, 2 Thess. 2:1, etc. The event described by Paul as the epiphaneia ("advent") in Titus 2:13 can easily be understood as the same event described by Paul as the parousia("presence") in 1 Thess. 4:15 and the erchomai ("coming") in 1 Cor. 4:5. When Clyde asserts (after quoting several passages from Paul's pre-prison epistles) that "Paul does not mention the "Coming" of Christ anywhere in his latter epistles," I cannot help but think that Clyde is simply begging the question here. When our "Acts 28:28" presuppositions are set aside (including presuppositions concerning the "hope of Israel"), there is simply no good reason to understand the epiphaneia of Titus 2:13 or 1 Tim. 6:14 to be referring to something different than the apokalupsis of Christ, the erchomai of Christ and the parousia of Christ to which Paul refers in his earlier epistles. For since we know that Paul used different words to refer to the same event (which even Clyde cannot deny), then it's simply not the case that Paul can't be referring to the same event in his latter epistles by his use of the word epiphaneia. That would simply make for four (rather than three) different words that Paul used to refer to the same event which he believed the body of Christ should be anticipating - i.e., an event in which Jesus Christ will descend from heaven and be manifested in glory to the body of Christ in the sky.  

It should also be noted that the word Paul uses in Col 3:4 in reference to the event that Clyde believes is spoken of in Titus 2:13 is phaneroō. Significantly, this word is found also in 1 John 3:2 in reference to the event described in Matt. 24:30-31. I'm not sure if Clyde would agree that the phaneroō in Col 3:4 speaks of a different even than that described in 1 John 3:2 (I believe it does), but if so, this would be yet another example in which the same Greek word is used in reference to two different events involving Christ and certain believers.  

"The Hope of Israel Anticipates the Revelation of Jesus Christ"  

After quoting Luke 17:30, Clyde then quotes 2 Thess. 1:7 ("And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels"), noting that "Paul does not mention the “revelation” (or “unveiling”) of Christ anywhere in his latter epistles." But in response to this all that needs to be said is, "So what?" Paul uses the word apokalupsis in reference to a future event involving Jesus Christ only one other time in all of his epistles (in 1 Cor. 1:7). Since Clyde believes that Paul referred to this future event more than just two times in his pre-prison epistles, he must admit that Paul had more opportunities to use this word again if he'd wanted to. But this Paul did not do. So why should we expect him to have used it again in his later epistles, rather than a different word of his choosing? Again, Paul clearly had no hesitation about using different words to refer to or describe the same event. The words that he decided to use probably just depended on what he wanted to emphasize at the time. 

Moreover, nowhere is it said that the event described in 2 Thess. 1:7 is the same event described in verses like 1 Cor. 1:7 or 1 Thess. 4:13-18, and it would be begging the question to simply assume that this is the case. Just because the same word is used in 1 Cor. 1:7 (for example) and 2 Thess. 1:7 doesn't mean Paul is necessarily referring to the same event. Again, we know that Paul sometimes used different words to refer to the same event as well as the same words to refer to different events. It is the context that must help us determine what event is in view.  

Finally, we have good reason to believe that 1 Cor. 1:7-8 refers to the same "day of deliverance" that Paul anticipated when he wrote his prison epistles (see Eph. 4:30-31). For in 1 Cor. 1:8, Paul refers to this event as "the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (in 1 Cor. 5:5 it is simply, "the day of the Lord Jesus" and in 2 Cor. 1:14 it is "the day of our Lord Jesus"). But Paul refers to this same event (which is clearly distinct from the "day of the Lord") in Phil 1:6, Phil. 1:10, Phil 2:16, 2 Tim 1:18 and 2 Tim 4:8. Based on what Paul says concerning this "day" throughout his epistles, it clearly refers to the time when the body of Christ will be delivered by Christ.  

"The Hope of Israel Has Jesus Christ Coming in the Clouds"  

Next, Clyde quotes Matthew 24:30. Clyde and I both agree that this verse refers to Christ's return to earth to establish the millennial kingdom. But then, Clyde tries to equate this event with the event described in 1 Thess. 4:17, emphasizing the fact that "clouds" are mentioned here but not in his later epistles. But once again, Clyde seems to be reading the "Acts 28:28" position into the text. The fact is that the mention of clouds in 1 Thess. 4:13-18 simply doesn't make this event the same as Matt 24:30. Why shouldn't clouds be mentioned in 1 Thess. 4:13-18 if the atmosphere above the earth is where the body of Christ is going to be meeting Christ after we've all been vivified, and before we ascend to the celestial realm? And more importantly, why should we expect Paul to refer to an event using the same exact details (in this case, "clouds") that he speaks of elsewhere when describing the event?  

As with the word apokalupsis (unveiling), Clyde wants to make a big deal out of the fact that Paul speaks of "clouds" in 1 Thess. 4:17, but doesn't mention these clouds later in his prison epistles. But this proves absolutely nothing. Not only does Paul not speak of these "clouds" in his prison epistles, he doesn't mention them again in 1 Thessalonians or any other epistle written before his imprisonment! The only other use of the Greek word nephele ("cloud") in Paul's epistles is in 1 Cor. 10:1-2. But there, the word has absolutely nothing to do with the event described in 1 Thess. 4:13-18. So why should we expect Paul to mention these clouds again in his prison epistles, even if he were referring to the same event? According to the reasoning Clyde is using here, one would be justified in concluding that the "dispensational dividing line" was right after Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians! Clyde's argument is, once again, based on an erroneous assumption - the assumption that Paul would've mentioned these clouds again if he had the same event in view in his prison epistles. But we simply have no good reason to assume this.  

"The Hope of Israel Anticipates the Second Coming of Jesus Christ with a TRUMPET, at the LAST TRUMP"  

Clyde's next comparison is between Christ's words in Matthew 24:31 and Paul's words in 1 Cor. 15:52 and 1 Thess. 4:16. But unless one is already presupposing that the two events are identical, there is no good reason why one should understand them as identical merely because both involve the sounding of a trumpet. If the two events are in fact distinct (and pertaining to distinct groups of people), there would be nothing out of place or unfitting about a trumpet sounding at both events. And as is the case with the use of the word "clouds," the fact that Paul doesn't mention a trumpet in his prison epistles does not prove or suggest anything. The mere fact that Paul does not mention the trumpet referred to in 1 Thess. 4 and 1 Cor. 15 in another epistle in no way means that Paul did not anticipate the event involving this trumpet when he wrote without referring specifically to it. Even Clyde must acknowledge that, in Paul's "Acts ministry" epistles, Paul refers to the event in which this trumpet will be sounded far more times than the mere two instances in which the trumpet is actually mentioned. Since Clyde would not argue that a lack of mention of the trumpet elsewhere in his earlier epistles is evidence that Paul didn't anticipate the event involving the trumpet, why would a lack of mention of the trumpet in his later epistles be any more supportive of his position? One has to already be presupposing the Acts 28 dispensational position in order for this to count as "evidence."  

What about the "last trump" that Paul refers to in 1 Cor. 15:52? Is this a clear reference to the "loud sounding trumpet" of Matt. 24:31? Only if one is already presupposing that these two events are the same. Apart from this prior assumption, I see no compelling reason to believe that Paul was referring to this event in 1 Cor. 15:52 or 1 Thess. 4:16 rather than to a distinct event involving a separate group of people. But what about Revelation 11? Is the sounding of the trumpet of the seventh angel of Revelation 11 the "last trump" referred to by Paul? Clyde writes, "The last trump means that there are earlier trumps. If this were somehow a special “last trump” which is supposedly distinctly for the Body of Christ, where are the preceding ones?"  

The "last trump" of which Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians is not a reference to a series of different trumpets being blown in succession (as is described in Revelation, where each angel is said to have its own trumpet). Rather, the expression "last trump" may refer to the last blast or sounding of a single trumpet - i.e., the trumpet referred to in 1 Thess. 4:16 as "the trumpet of God." When we compare what Paul says in this passage and 1 Cor. 15, it seems as if there will be a single trumpet - the "trumpet of God" - that will be blown multiple times. It is the last "trump" of this one "trumpet of God" that will coincide with the vivifying of every member of the body of Christ, whether dead or alive. 

Clyde goes on to say, "Interestingly enough, at the seventh and final trumpet (or last trump) recorded in Revelation 11:15, there is a resurrection of Israel’s saints. At that time these saints are also judged and rewarded (:15-18)." 

Actually, we are not told that there will be a "resurrection of Israel's saints" (or any resurrection at all) when the seventh messenger trumpets. Clyde is unfortunately playing fast and loose with the text here. What we are told is that, after the sounding of the seventh angel's trumpet, the twenty-four elders declare that "...the nations are angered, and Thy indignation came, and the ERA for the dead to be judged, and to give their wages to Thy slaves, the prophets, and to the saints and to those fearing Thy name, the small and the great, and to blight those who are blighting the earth."

That which is said to have come is the ERA or SEASON (karios) in which this event (as well as others) takes place - not the event itself. There is no mention whatsoever of a resurrection taking place when the seventh messenger trumpets. However, when the "last trump" referred to by Paul occurs, we are told that there will be an IMMEDIATE resurrection/vivification of believers. And not only does the final sounding of this "trumpet of God" coincide with an immediate resurrection/vivification (rather than an "era" in which a judgment - and by implication, a resurrection - of saints will take place), the resurrection/vivification is not said to be for "Israelite saints." It is for those who believed the evangel that Paul was preaching at this time - i.e., the evangel of the uncircumcision. Even before Paul's imprisonment, those who believed Paul's evangel (and consequently became members of the "one body" of Christ that existed at this time) consisted primarily of former idol-worshipping, uncircumcised Gentiles rather than Israelites (see, for example 1 Thess. 1:9).  

The simple fact is that the resurrection of Israel's saints doesn't even take place at the time Christ returns to earth. We are told that those whom Christ referred to as "His chosen" will be assembled through the agency of messengers (Matt. 24:31), but based on the larger context of this chapter, this group of people are most likely believing Israelites who will have survived the great affliction and lived to see Christ's return. It is these whom Christ said would be saved if they endured to the consummation (Mt. 24:13), whom Christ said the great signs and miracles being performed by false prophets during the great affliction could deceive, if possible (v. 24), and for whose sake these perilous days would "be discounted" (v. 22). Absolutely nothing is said about anyone being resurrected or vivified at this time. And considering the huge significance of such an event as the resurrection of Israel's saints, its absence from this passage is especially glaring.  

So when will Israel's saints be raised, if not at the time of Christ's return to earth? Since Daniel will undoubtedly be among those believing, faithful Israelites who will be resurrected, if we can determine when he will be raised, then we can determine when the rest of Israel's saints will be raised as well. In Daniel 12:5-7, we read about the last half of Israel's 70th seven-year "week" or "heptad" ("a time, times, and half a time," or 1260 days). Now, we know that Daniel's 70th "week" will conclude with the return of Christ to earth in glory and power. There are a number of reasons for believing this, but one of them is as follows: the Antichrist - also known as the man of lawlessness, the wild beast, etc. - is going to be given authority over the entire world for 42 months, or 1,260 days (see Rev. 13:5). This period of time is the second half of Daniel's 70th "week." We also know that it is Christ's return to the earth that brings the reign of the Antichrist to an end (see Rev. 19:19-20). So Christ is going to return to the earth at the very end of Daniel's 70th week. It is this glorious event that brings this present wicked eon to a complete end, and ushers in the next eon. 

Now, at the end of Daniel 12 we read, "And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days." Here Daniel is told of a period of 1,290 days which will follow the midpoint of the 70th week. It is the last half of the 7 year period plus an additional 30 days (1,260 days + 30 days = 1,290 days). In the next verse, we read: "Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days. But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days."

The "1,335 days" refers to the last half of Israel's 70th week plus an additional 75 days (1,260 days + 75 days). Apparently, something really amazing - something those who are alive at the time will be blessed to experience - is going to take place on the 1,335th day. But what? Notice what the messenger says next: "And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days." In other words, Daniel's being told that he would "rest" (that is, die) and then "stand" (be resurrected) at the end of the days being referred to here (what's neat is that the word translated "resurrection" in the Greek scriptures - anastasis - literally means, "to stand up" or "to stand again"). Thus we see that the resurrection of Israel's saints - which will obviously include Daniel - will take place 75 days AFTER Christ's return to earth - i.e., the last day of the 1,335 days spoken of by the angel (the "end of the days"). 

What's fascinating is that, in John's Gospel, Christ often spoke of the resurrection as taking place on the "last day" (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54). Martha believed that her brother Lazarus would rise on the "last day" as well. They were evidently familiar with Daniel's prophecy that the resurrection of Israel's saints is going to take place on the last day of the 1,335 days referred to at the end of the book. That the resurrection of Israel's saints is going to take place 75 days after Christ returns to earth (and not WHEN he returns) is further confirmed by the chronology of the events prophesied in the book of Revelation. The chronology of events provided in this book (beginning at chapter 19) is as follows: 

1. Christ returns in glory and power, accompanied by "the armies of heaven" (Rev. 19:11-18). 

2. The Antichrist and the kings of the earth and their armies assemble to do battle with Christ (19:19).  

3. The Antichrist and his armies are defeated (19:20-21).  

4. Satan is cast into a prison (the "submerged chaos"), where he must remain bound for a thousand years (20:1-3). 

5. The "first" or "former" resurrection takes place, and the thousand year reign of Christ and his saints begins (20:4-6). [Note: We know that the "former resurrection" doesn't involve the martyrs referred to in this passage exclusively, since we're told that "they ALSO LIVE and reign." Since the reference to their "living" speaks of their being resurrected in the "former resurrection," we know that there are others who will be resurrected at this time as well (for example, those who will be seated on thrones and judging). The martyrs are simply emphasized here because Revelation deals primarily with the time period during which their martyrdom takes place (i.e., the second half of Daniel's 70th week, under the reign of the Antichrist).] 

6. The thousand-year imprisonment of Satan ends, and he is "loosed a little time." 

Obviously we could go on listing events until we get to the creation of the new heaven and new earth and the descent of new Jerusalem, but the point is that there is a chronological order to the events that are prophesied as taking place from the time of Christ's return on. And this inspired chronology fits perfectly with what we're told in Daniel 12 concerning when Daniel (and, by implication, the rest of Israel's saints) will be resurrected. However, neither the prophecies of Daniel nor the prophecies of the Unveiling correspond with the event involving the body of Christ that is prophesied by Paul in 1 Thess. 4:15-18 and 1 Cor. 15:50-53. The resurrection of Israel's saints and the resurrection of those to whom Paul wrote (both before and after his imprisonment) are completely different events taking place at completely different times. Any theory which ignores this important distinction rests on a failure to correctly divide the word of truth. 

"The Hope of Israel Anticipates the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to be Accompanied with Glory and Power, and by Wrath"  

Little needs to be said in response to the final two sections of Clyde's article. Clyde's argument is simply that, in 2 Thess. 1:7-9, Paul refers to the coming of Christ referred to in Matt. 24:30 and Revelation, but does not mention this event in his prison epistles. But in order for this to prove anything or support the Acts 28:28 position, Clyde would have to show that the event described in 2 Thess. 1:7-9 is the same event involving the snatching away and vivifying of the body of Christ, described in 1 Thess. 4:13-18. But I don't think Clyde has succeeded in doing this. Instead, his arguments rest almost entirely on certain assumptions he's made. Moreover, it's not necessarily the case that Paul makes no mention of this event in his prison epistles (see, for example, Col. 3:6-7 and 2 Tim. 4:1; cf. Acts 10:42 and 1 Pet. 4:5-6). But even if Paul did make no mention at all of this event in his prison epistles, it would provide no support for Clyde's position. For nowhere else in his earlier epistles does Paul use the sort of language used in 2 Thess. 1:7-9 to describe a future event involving Christ. According to the reasoning Clyde is using here, one would be justified in concluding that the "dispensational dividing line" was right after Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians!  

Clyde concludes his article with the following: "This hope involves the Second Coming of Christ to the earth to establish His righteous kingdom as taught in the Circumcision writings. Though the hope of I Thessalonians 4 has as its expectation meeting Christ in the atmospheric clouds and simply returning to the earth to reign and rule with Him (“and so shall we ever be with the Lord”), “that Blessed Hope” is the expectation of our glorious appearing with Christ in the celestials, there to establish His righteous rule in the heavens, all necessary prior to the reinstatement of Israel’s prophetic program." 

I believe Clyde makes a couple of unsubstantiated assumptions here. First, he has not demonstrated that the "hope of Israel" involves "the Second Coming of Christ to the earth to establish His righteous kingdom as taught in the Circumcision writings." He has simply assumed this. As argued at the beginning of this article, the hope of Israel that Paul had in mind was the resurrection of the dead, which is a trans-administrational hope. Although it could legitimately be referred to by Paul (in the presence of the Jewish leaders in Rome) as "the expectation of Israel," it is not the exclusive expectation of Israel. It is also the expectation of the body of Christ, and is in fact something that pertains to every human being who will die. 

Second, Clyde creates what I believe to be a false dichotomy between the event described in 1 Thess. 4:16-17, and the "happy expectation" referred to in Titus 2:13, as well as the appearing of Christ referred to in Col. 3:4. Neither of these verses need refer to an event distinct from the event described in 1 Thess. 4 and elsewhere in Paul's earlier epistles. Was the snatching away described in 1 Thess. 4 not a blessed hope or happy expectation for Paul and his believing readers at that time? Who could possibly deny that this was the case? And is not Christ going to appear to believers when he meets them in the air after the snatching away takes place? And will believers not appear together with him in glory at this time, as well as in heaven afterwards? Again, I don't see how this can be denied.

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