O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Hi everybody, a new member with the same old questions here. I have been aware of preterism for a couple of years now and though I find much of it appealing I however have challenges with primarily 2 issues, one being the resurrection and the other being the end of the old covenant. These may even be the same question. Searching for discussions about these issues has led me here, Im sure it will be beneficial, so just bear with me guy.
How is 1 Cor 15:12-13 " Now if Christ is preached that he hath been raised from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither hath Christ been raised" to be understood
one more thing about the resurrection that does keep me wondering is the ot saints....okay at the end of the age....did they just appear in heaven
I guess so!
I kind of thing maybe like the Jw's where they say that God will remember you in his perfect memory
That sounds to me like soul sleep, I don't buy that.
You are my partner in crime in believing for a physical resurrection in the future. I just want to quiz you a little bit pertaining this our view. Im sure your answers will help me to maintain my view and slither from the claws of full preterism which perpetually try to strangle me in.
I was reading Revelation and 1 Thessalonians recently and saw an interesting parallel. In Rev 11 the two witnesses resurrect and go to heaven on a cloud whilst in Thessalonians all believers meet the Lord in the clouds. Sounded to me like the same event.
Who do you understand the witnesses to be and do you find them to be the same group as those described in 1 Thessalonians? (Im sorry I don't remember in detail your view on 1 Thes 4)
Also, it seems the Thessalonians were worried that their dead comrades would somehow be disadvantaged at the Lord's coming, possible fail to participate in any way. Do you agree with this understanding?
IF that was their concern, would that not mean their understanding of the coming of the Lord did not involve the dead rising? How would you reconstruct the eschatology of those who were worried about their dead comrades? What was their hope?
I have always doubted 1 Thes 4 as a future-to-us resurrection text and these thought are trying to cement my doubts.
Earlier in this thread I said (pertaining to those at Corinth who denied the dead would rise) that they simply believed in life after death hence they did not believe the asleep in Christ had "perished" but were with God. The challenge Im facing is to reconstruct their eschatology. What hope did they have? Were they no longer looking for the coming of Christ?
I hope you will be able to assist in somehow reconstructing the eschatology of these two groups i.e. those at Corinth and those in Thessalonica. At the rate Im going, I may end up a preterist :)
Hi again JIR,
It's been a while since we both visited this post, but even after years of continuing study, I am still firmly convinced of 3 resurrections, with each of these 3 events involving a change for the physically dead bodies of mankind from a corruptible form into an incorruptible form.
You are asking me to be even more daring than Don K. Preston is willing to be concerning the identity of the two witnesses. Okay, I'll go for it, since I don't have any book sales to risk if I am terribly off course.
I can see why you might find it plausible to connect the rising in the cloud of the two witnesses with the rising in the clouds of the I Thess. 4 saints, but I can't agree with these occurring at the same time. Here's why. The timing for the rising from the dead of these two witnesses in their physical bodies falls under the 6th trumpet sounding in Rev. 9:13. Only when we get to the angel sounding the 7th trumpet in Rev. 11:15 do we arrive at the time for the dead to be judged, with rewards handed out to the servants, the prophets, and all the saints, both small and great. This 7th trumpet of Rev. 11:15 is the same "last" trumpet of I Cor. 15, with its resurrection of the physically dead bodies of all the saints at that time. There is no trumpet mentioned in the account of the two witnesses, so theirs is an individual occurrence, just as those of others in scripture, such as Lazarus, the widow's son, etc.
My best guess until now for these two individuals, (and I do believe they are probably two individual men), are the two aged, former high priests Jesus, and Ananus who did their best to dissuade the Zealots and those like-minded from pursuing a reckless rebellion against Rome which they could not win. Ananus, a "very prudent man" according to Josephus, was commissioned as governor of Jerusalem in charge of affairs within the city and repairing the walls in the early days of AD 66 when Cestius Gallus had just been ignominiously defeated. Josephus repeats Ananus' lengthy speech to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and also Jesus' speech on the wall to the Idumeans who were shut out of the city by Ananus in AD 68. This, I believe was when they "finished their testimony" as they tried a last- ditch effort to encourage peace and cooperation with Roman authority in order to save the city. Of course, the effort failed, with the result that when the Idumeans broke into the city that dark and stormy night, they went searching first of all for these high priests. Ananus and Jesus were slain by them, and "standing upon their dead bodies, in way of jest upbraided Ananus with his kindness to the people, and Jesus with his speech made to them from the wall. Nay, they proceeded to that degree of impiety, as to cast away their dead bodies without burial....I should not mistake if I said that the death of Ananus was the beginning of the destruction of the city, and that from this very day may be dated the overthrow of her wall, and the ruin of her affairs, whereon they saw their high priest, and the procurer of their preservation, slain in the midst of their city." (Josephus Wars bk. 4, ch.5, 2)
The description in Rev. 11:13 of the earthquake which takes place during "the same hour" when these two men meet their death and subsequent resurrection matches up with the Idumean-led attack on Jerusalem during that fearful nighttime storm in AD 68, when Josephus lists 8,500 casualties, and scripture lists 7,000 - a tenth of the city. It's just seems a little too similar not to be connected. However, I'm cautious about being dogmatic about these two witnesses being Ananus and Jesus, the former high priests, simply because the language in scripture describing their ministry seems a little over the top compared to the way Josephus describes these two men's actions during this period. Perhaps not, if much of the description of their actions is in a symbolic sense.
With reference to the I Thess. 4 "rapture" text, most assuredly this is not a future-to-us event. This entire passage was Paul's attempt to comfort those early church members who had already seen their loved ones die, and who had been discouraged by the Hymenaeus and Philetus teaching that the physical resurrection had already occurred, and that their loved ones had missed out on this. The only way this discouraging error had been able to take root was that everyone in that early church remembered the First Resurrection of Christ and the many bodies of the saints which arose along with Him and went into Jerusalem (Matt. 27:52-53). It was an astonishing event, as the centurion acknowledged, meant to provide undeniable proof of what characterized a resurrected person. A "free sample", if you will, of what the believers could expect for themselves in the soon-coming parousia in AD 70.
The entire purpose of Paul's I Thess. 4 chapter is to comfort those whose faith had faltered due to Hymenaeus and Philetus's error which said that this Matt. 27:52-53 resurrection for the saints was the one-and-only fulfillment of all OT predictions of a bodily resurrection. These Matt. 27:52-53 saints were still among the early church, had never left the planet, and were waiting (along with everyone else who had been bodily resurrected during the OT and NT) to participate in this I Thess. 4 "rapture" to heaven. They are the ones who had been made "alive", and who had "remained" on the earth to serve the early church. (If you need proof of this, I've got plenty of references. You've probably been tripping over them in your Bible reading all along, like I have, without realizing it.) When Christ returned in the clouds physically in AD 70 at Pentecost, these I Thess. 4 resurrected saints would not be the first ones to leave with Christ, since Christ would first raise the bodies of those who had died in the faith, and would then take the "alive and remaining" ones to meet Him in the air, together with the other newly-resurrected saints.
Nobody but bodily-resurrected persons participated in the AD 70, I Thess. 4 and I Cor. 15 resurrection. There is NO translation of the living mentioned in either text. The "change" into an incorruptible body form is ONLY for the dead, not the living. The language is just not there.
You ask what the eschatological hope of the I Cor 15 saints was. I am indebted to a former post here on this site for helping me understand that one short statement - "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed." According to the post I read, there are several variants for how this can be translated, but the one based on the Aramaic essentially translates "None of us shall sleep" (forever). It's similar to Christ's statement to Martha, "...and everyone who lives and believes on me in no wise shall die forever." (John 11:26 Interlinear)
For the typical futurist, they interpret I Cor. 15:51 this way: " 'We shall not ALL sleep', (because some of us won't die before Christ's second coming in the future), but we will all (both living and dead) receive either a translated or a resurrected, incorruptible body when He comes."
Change the word emphasis in that short phrase, and the meaning changes entirely: " 'We shall NOT all sleep', (NONE of us dead saints will stay asleep in death when Christ comes), but all of us dead saints will be changed into an incorruptible body when He comes." This is not how the post I read on this site intended this variant to be interpreted, but it makes perfect sense to me with the language we are given in that text, without having to twist into a pretzel to interpret it.
Here is a comparison in everyday language to help illustrate the difference in the way a futurist hears this phrase and how I believe Paul meant it to be understood. I gave this same comparison on another website where I also post. Suppose you have a group of employees who want to know if all of them will be getting a raise the next year. They go to the assistant manager to ask this, and the assistant manager tells them, "We will not all get a raise, but we will all get a bonus." One optimistic employee (the futurist guy) thinks he hears this: "We will not ALL get a raise, but I probably will be one of the few that do, because I have done so much overtime, and I will get the bonus, too." The more realistic employee hears this: "We will NOT all get a raise, not one of us, but at least we will all get a bonus." Okay, maybe that's a cheesy way to explain it, but perhaps it will help show where I'm coming from.
Thanks Patricia, for the response quite enlightening. I was however reminded of my dear friend David Green. Where is he, does anyone know. He used to tolerate me so much and a phrase of his I cherish is heaps of hyper complex spaghetti. Seems I still needs lessons is expressing myself clearly.
Always good to get an alternate view on Revelation, surely not the easiest book in the Bible and many subtle points. I would want to know when you find the two witnesses resurrecting. In the vision they resurrect the same time. So when do you find both of them resurrection?
I will leave out 1 Cor 15 to focus on 1 Thes 4. What I am saying is this: For us to understand Paul's "comforting words", we may need to have a good idea about the error and concern that the Thessalonians had. It is the Thessalonians' understanding that I am trying to reconstruct.
So please check and agree or disagree on each point.
1) The Thessalonians (still alive) had some eschatological hope through the gospel. They believed Jesus would return in the future.
2) This hope was to be realised by those still living (hence concern not for themselves but for those who died) i.e. they were not just grieving because someone died but they were grieving because the dead would miss out on some eschatological hope while the living would experience it.
Now in the 3 fold resurrection, you are saying (and I stand to be corrected) that there was a hope that those raised from the dead (up to that time), together with old and new testament believers who had died would be raised and translated to heaven in AD70 while the remainder would wait for the final resurrection. Do I get you correctly?
What then was the concern of the Thessalonians? Was it that the dead loved ones would have to wait until the final resurrection? Was there something particularly important about this "middle' resurrection that missing it meant you had lost out on the eschatological hope?
Does it imply the Thessalonians did not expect to die OR did not expect a future physical resurrection?
Why did the Thessalonians have a hope for themselves who were living yet concerned about the dead?
If the error that had crept in the church was that the" Matt. 27:52-53 resurrection for the saints was the one-and-only fulfillment of all OT predictions of a bodily resurrection." does that not imply that the Thessalonians would no longer have hope even for the living rather than just having concern for the dead?
If the 3 fold resurrection had been tampered with, which elements had been tampered, what had it been replaced with and why did it raise concern only for the dead?
Please do provide proof of the ones who had been made "alive", and who had "remained" on the earth to serve the early church.
I always enjoy hearing new things
Great to hear from you Dave.
I missed you, even feared you had died but great to know you are still among us.
Yeah bro, still dishing it out, old habits die hard, one day I will get better.
But I always try keep my posts under 500 words... dont always do it, but try.
Hi again JIR/Boyardee (nice screen name choice - every kid's favorite)
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you - there were computer glitches earlier in the week and workroom deadlines followed that. And your comment deserved better than an off-the-cuff response.
As for your first question, "...when [do] you find the two witnesses resurrecting", I would answer that it happened in AD 68 at "the same hour" (Rev. 11:13) that the earthquake in the city of Jerusalem took place, when 7,000 men were slain during that engagement. It is the occasion of the Idumean attack on Jerusalem when they broke into the city under cover of that violent nighttime storm Josephus records for us. When it says "the same hour", it does not have to be within 60 minutes of it, any more than the "hour" of Babylon/Jerusalem's destruction took 60 minutes to accomplish (Rev. 18:10,19). All that it means is that the two events - the earthquake and the two witnesses resurrecting - happened within very close range of each other. When this "2nd woe/6th trumpet" is past, the "3rd woe/7th trumpet" follows very quickly after that (Rev. 11:14). In other words, it isn't long from the death and resurrection of the two witnesses in AD 68 until AD 70 when the time of judgment and resurrection of the dead takes place (Rev. 11:18). Which brings us back around to I Thess. 4 and the "rapture/resurrection" passage.
Your understanding of a 3-fold resurrection as I've tried to present it is correct with only one exception - there is no translation included in either the I Thess. 4 or I Cor. 15 context. And yes, those believers who died after Pentecost AD 70 would be waiting until the 3rd and final resurrection to participate in one.
For your statement under point #1), yes, the majority of the Thessalonian believers (the ones who hadn't died yet) held firmly to the promise given to the fathers in the OT, that a physical resurrection for the dead would be taking place in their future at Christ's return. (If you wish, I'll pass on references related to this hope in the OT that I have found.) Only some of these Thessalonians had their faith overthrown by the Hymenaeus and Philetus error (II Tim. 2:18) Others were in doubt, wavering in their faith regarding the bodily resurrection. These were the ones Paul was addressing in order to clear up any misunderstanding about the matter. The mistaken impression was that those raised above ground already, (the Matthew 27:52-53 saints, etc.,) were the sum total of those who would ever experience a bodily resurrection.
As brought out in your point #2), Paul wanted to prevent the Thessalonians from grieving like the Gentiles who held out no hope at all of a bodily resurrection for anyone, ever. These Thessalonians may have still believed Christ would return to relieve them of their persecution by the Judaizers (II Thess. 1:7-8). But where they were mistaken was in thinking that ONLY those already raised from the dead (i.e., those Matt. 27:52-53 saints who had remained on earth) would finally be taken to heaven by the returning Christ. This would leave behind the rest of the dead saints, still underground, never to be raised to life. This error would also have meant that they, too, would never get to experience a bodily resurrection either, once they had passed into the grave. This error provided discouragement aplenty, as Paul acknowledged in I Cor. 15:19, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." A Christian life filled with first-century persecution, followed by passing into a grave in which their bodies would perish, just as any unbeliever's body would eventually do, provided scant encouragement to remain faithful to Christ. They might as well "eat, drink, and be merry", if tomorrow they would die, never to be raised to life again like Christ.
So Hymenaeus and Philetus had effectively denied the future 2nd and 3rd bodily resurrections by using the 1st bodily resurrection as "proof". Indeed, it was impressive enough of an event for their error to be believable. As I already mentioned, the Matt. 27:52-53 saints were still around for Hymenaeus and Philetus to point to as their "exhibit A". There were 144,000 of these Firstfruits saints as Rev. 14:4 labels them. That's a memorable amount of individuals, and could hardly be overlooked.
You asked for some proof of this. Look first at Rom. 8:23. Paul talks about the church still having these resurrected saints among them. "We ourselves, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit..." is not talking about the fruit of the Spirit, such as love, joy, peace, etc. It's speaking of the firstfruits saints who were raised along with Christ - the work of the Spirit who also raised Christ, the first of these firstfruits who would stand in God's presence in a resurrected body (I Cor. 15:20). Paul said "we HAVE... the Firstfruits" of the Spirit's work of adoption/redemption of the body. That means the Matt. 27:52-53 Firstfruits of resurrected saints were still living and serving in the first-century church. It is the fulfillment of the OT type of the sheaf handful, the Firstfruits of the barley harvest during Passover in Lev. 23:10-11. It was only a handful, but dedicated to the Lord in anticipation of the fuller harvest soon to come. Just as these Matt. 27 saints resurrected at Passover were only a handful, also dedicated to the Lord in anticipation of the next, 2nd resurrection to come in the near future at Pentecost in AD 70.
Why would God need these saints to remain on earth? Jesus had made a promise in Matt 24:14 that the gospel would be preached "in all the habitable earth, for a testimony to all the nations". before the end came. But he also said that the disciples themselves would NOT have gone over all the cities of Israel before the Son of Man had come (Matt 10:23). This left a gap of some people that would NOT be reached by the disciples. This is where the labor force of the Matt. 27 saints came into the picture. Christ had already told the disciples to pray that the Lord would send forth laborers into the harvest, which was "already white unto harvest" The Matt. 27 resurrected saints were the answer to this prayer.
They are the "multitude of captives" that Christ brought up out of the grave at His own resurrection, and gave them as gifts to men (Eph. 4:8). These "gifts" are listed in Eph. 4:11-12 (Interlinear). "And He gave some apostles" (not to be confused with the 12 apostles - it just means "sent ones") "and some prophets and some evangelists, and some shepherds and teachers, with a view to the perfecting of the saints, for work of the service, for building up the body of Christ;" This doesn't say that He MADE some men as prophets, apostles, etc. - it says He GAVE (to) some prophets, and (to) some apostles, etc. We tend to think of this list as talents or abilities given to the church leaders today, not thinking that this list was a description of the type of resurrected saints who ALREADY WERE these different types of people before they were raised to life again, and given to those in the 1st-century church.
Here's a reference we have all read hundreds of times, not realizing that it is talking about the Matt. 27 resurrected saints. Hebrews 12:22-23 (interlinear) reads, "but ye have come to Sion mount, and the city of God the living, Jerusalem heavenly, and to myriads of angels, the universal gathering, and to the assembly of the FIRST BORN ONES IN THE HEAVENS REGISTERED; and to the judge God of all, and to THE SPIRITS OF THE JUST WHO HAVE BEEN PERFECTED." This echoes the Rom. 8:23 reference to the "Firstfruits" when it calls these "the FIRSTBORN ONES' - those who were enrolled on heaven's books, but not present there yet, even though these "JUST ONES" had already been "perfected" in an incorruptible body when Hebrews was written. Mt. Sinai was a fearful encounter with the untouchable living God in the OT, but in contrast, the NT believers could literally reach out and grasp the hands of those who had already been perfected - an example of what they could expect for themselves if they died under persecution before AD 70 arrived. This was a strong incentive to remain faithful, even under persecution from all directions.
For an even more ancient example of a person who remained on the earth for thousands of years in a body made incorruptible, look at Melchisedek in Heb. 7:8. "And here men that die receive tithes, but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that HE LIVETH." Melchisedek had neither an observable beginning of life nor end of days, as a type of the perpetual, superior high priest that Christ would become after His ascension. For the analogy to make its point, neither Christ nor Melchisedek would ever relinquish their incorruptible body forms as priest. (We must have a perfect, divine advocate in human form before God's throne for our prayers as humans to find acceptance in His eyes. Our standing as children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ depends on Christ retaining His human form - "passed into the heavens".)
The order of Melchisedek was superior to the Levitical high priests who would die and pass their role on to the next high priest. I believe Melchidedek was none other than the translated Enoch who re-entered history after the flood, with no obvious parentage, no children, and no end of his days. (A translated man cannot die, any more than a resurrected man can die again.) In the time Hebrews was written, this man Melchisedek, the 7th from Adam, was STILL LIVING. Perhaps this would explain the existence of the book of Enoch still being around as well at that time, for Jude to be able to quote it so exactly. Melchisedek (aka Enoch) might have been toting it around in a backpack for several millennia. Just a thought.
One last example of a resurrected person living on earth in the first century to serve the early church. According to Pastor David Curtis' sermon on this, Lazarus of Bethany, whom Jesus loved and raised from the dead, is none other than John Eleazar, a priest, who wrote Revelation. Pastor Curtis' sermon on this is worth reviewing - it seems quite thorough to me, and makes sense for a dying Jesus to pass the care of His mother to a man that couldn't possibly die ever again. It also makes sense that Jesus would answer Peter that this man (John) would "remain until He came" (John 21:22), just like the I Thess. 4 "alive and remaining" ones would wait to be taken to heaven when Jesus came in AD 70. One other side note on John, if he really is Lazarus: there is a record by the historian Tertullian that John who wrote Revelation survived being boiled in oil under Nero's reign before he was sent to Patmos. This would be a perfectly believable account if it was someone raised from the dead, as Lazarus was. A resurrected person is impervious to death of any kind, by any method, from any source.
There are other references connected with the Matt 27:52-53 saints and their activities that aren't included above, but this reply is far too long as it is. I may not have exactly addressed the points you were trying to cover, but thank you at least for your patience in allowing me to ramble.
Thanks for the time Patricia, it is a scarce and perishable resource, an honour for someone to use it to indulge you.
On Rev 11, seems you believe in a separate resurrection and ascension for these two witnesses - separate from everyone else. Wouldn't that make the resurrections 4 instead of 3? Is there a type for this resurrection and ascension of the two witnesses like the one you found to establish the 3 fold resurrection? Wouldn't that also mean that some were saved apart from a coming of Christ (since Christ only came in AD70) thus effectively having a separate hope from everyone else?
Given that Revelation was given in symbols and that I just don't like two individuals experiencing the blessed hope on their own, Im wary about your conclusions here. I get you drift about the seventh trumpet still to be blown but I am yet to be convinced that Revelation (neither the entire book nor the consecutive seals/trumpets/vials) is in chronological order.
On 1 Thes 4 I was getting confused between the various groups i.e. those living who had being raised and the remainder of those still alive. I couldn't consistently understand which group had which concern.
But before we get too deep, do you agree that due to a doctrine that was present, the Thessalonians were worried ONLY about the dead. This would mean they STILL had hope for themselves.
I believe the above scenario true because Paul introduces the topic (1 Thes 4:13) with reference to those "asleep" and does not seem to be trying to re-establish those still alive as having a hope. Thus it seems that those still alive STILL had hope for themselves.
Consequently I have issues with these statements: The mistaken impression was that those raised above ground already, (the Matthew 27:52-53 saints, etc.,) were the sum total of those who would ever experience a bodily resurrection... This error would also have meant that they, too, would never get to experience a bodily resurrection either, once they had passed into the grave. This error provided discouragement aplenty
Such statements would require that those alive were now worried about their own hope as well. I believe they still had a hope for themselves.
Paul wanted to prevent the Thessalonians from grieving like the Gentiles who held out no hope at all of a bodily resurrection for anyone, ever.
Here is where it gets interesting. What then would be their expectation beyond the grave if there is no physical resurrection? Is it being absent from the body is being present with the Lord? Was it now annihilation or being lost in Hades?
Surely the Thessalonians (despite the false teaching) still believed in the efficacy of Christ's passion. They surely did not believe that they were now lost souls simply because there is no more physical resurrection right? What had happened to the hope of righteousness (Gal 5:5, 2 Pet 3:13) and salvation (Luke 21:28, Rom 13:1, 1 Pet 1:5,9)?
A side issue has to do with abode of the dead between Pentecost and the parousia.
A Christian life filled with first-century persecution, followed by passing into a grave in which their bodies would perish, just as any unbeliever's body would eventually do, provided scant encouragement to remain faithful to Christ.
What then (in light of the false teaching which was now present) do you understand to be their view of life after death? Where would a person's spirit go at death?
So Hymenaeus and Philetus had effectively denied the future 2nd and 3rd bodily resurrections by using the 1st bodily resurrection as "proof".
IF that is true and the Christian hope is bodily resurrection, then surely the Thessalonians would have been left with no hope but 1 Thes 4:13 says to me, they still had hope.
Let me clarify my statements a bit concerning the resurrection of the two witnesses. Although they are bodily raised from the dead and are said to have gone up in a cloud, it isn't possible that their ascension into the clouds equals an ascension of their resurrected bodies to God's presence in heaven itself. Rev. 15:8 is quite clear that "...no man was able to enter into the temple (in heaven, as in Rev. 15:5) till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled." In this respect, the resurrection of these two witnesses didn't differ from any other individuals raised to life on the planet before AD 70.
The final passage into the presence of the Father in heaven didn't occur for anyone except Christ before the AD 70 resurrection at Pentecost. This is how Christ can claim the title of the "First begotten from the dead" (Rev. 1:5), even though some individuals were given a resurrected body long before Christ was raised in AD 33, such as the Shunamite woman's son in II Kings 4. "This day have I begotten thee" in Ps. 2:7 prophesies of this exact day when Christ ascended to heaven and His Father to achieve this "First begotten" status, just after He spoke with Mary Magdalene. He was the "Firstborn among many brethren" - the one who opened up the way (the matrix) for all believers who would eventually be caught up to join Him in the Father's presence in the 2nd and 3rd resurrections.
This is why Hebrews 11:35,40 calls the 2nd resurrection in AD 70 the "better" resurrection for the saints. For those who were bodily raised during this event, there would be no waiting period on the earth in their incorruptible bodies, such as the Matthew 27:52-53 Firstfruits saints had experienced. Since their experience as a group was a unique one, Rev. 14:3 says this group of 144,000 Firstfruits saints had a song to learn that no one else could learn except them.
Jesus also told Nicodemus in John 3:13 that "...no man hath ascended up to heaven...", which would mean that, at that time, neither Enoch nor Elijah could claim to have ascended bodily to heaven either. So Elijah's ascent "as it were into heaven" (II Kings 2:1,11 - LXX) with the whirlwind did not bring him into God's presence. (Especially since we have scripture in II Chron. 21:12-15 recording Elijah's letter to King Jehoram written years after his transport into the sky.) I believe the same type of transport could have occurred with the two resurrected witnesses in Rev. 11:12. They were raised to life again, caught up into the clouds by God's power, and transported elsewhere on earth until they could join the rest of the newly-resurrected dead in AD 70. These were all taken together into God's presence at that time - the "time of the dead", when the last, 7th vial of judgment was poured out. So no, the two witnesses were bodily raised to physical life again, just like Lazarus, but they didn't precede anyone else into heaven.
You and I would both agree that Rev. doesn't proceed in a strictly chronological order from beginning to end. As I see it, there are flashbacks describing events such as Christ's birth and ascension in Rev. 12:1-5. Also, I see there in Rev. 12:15,16 the persecution of the early church at Jerusalem by the dragon, Satan. It included Saul/Paul's persecution of the church, which acted as a flood to carry away the church within those first 3 1/2 years after Pentecost following AD 33 (the last half of Daniel's 70th week). I also see a flashback in Rev. 20 that gives an abbreviated biography of Satan's activities in this world from the beginning of the millennium when Solomon's temple foundation was laid, up until AD 70 when Satan is disposed of in the Lake of Fire in Jerusalem.
Interspersed between these flashbacks are the triple confirmations of judgment on Jerusalem by the 7 seals, 7 trumpets, and 7 vials which simply describe the same time period of judgment from three different angles. Within each of these three groups, though, there is most definitely a chronological order that escalates in intensity from the 1st to the 7th position. So we can use this consecutive order within each of these three groups to help determine just how events played out over time in the end of that age.
Back to your discussion on the I Thess. 4 context. Since I believe these who were made "alive and remained" among the church are the Matt. 27:52-53 Firstfruits saints, and are also the 144,000 Firstfruits saints found in Rev. 14:4, this means they are all of Jewish tribe origination (Rev. 7:4). This being the case, some of the Thessalonians, who were predominantly Gentile, might have been wondering if the bodily resurrection was a perk only allowed for those of the circumcision - an additional blessing that Gentiles were not intended to share.
I'm sure Paul had instructed them concerning the "absent from the body, present with the Lord" concept regarding where the spirits of the righteous went after death (II Cor. 5:8). This part of their "salvation package" never appears to be questioned. But the physical-resurrection-of-the-body part of salvation does appear to be challenged; first by those leaning toward Sadducee-type beliefs (no resurrection whatever - I Cor. 15:12); second, by those who were listening to Hymenaeus and Philetus' deception (that the one-and-only bodily resurrection was already past - II Tim. 2:17,18). Paul didn't want either idea to get a following among those he was instructing.
As far as any difference between a resurrection for Jews or Gentiles was concerned - Gentile "strangers" who were of the household of faith were always included in the worship of the Israelite tribes - even from Moses' days (Num. 15:14-16). Even in post-exilic times in Ezekiel 47:22,23, God made specific commands that these believing "strangers" were to share an inheritance among the tribes of Israel when the land was divided up. Just so with the 2nd resurrection for the whole house of Israel in AD 70 at Pentecost. At that time, Daniel's people came into their full inheritance of a body, soul, and spirit resurrected to stand before God's presence in the true Promised Land. But by then, both Jews and Gentiles believers had been obviously presented as the "One New Man" - the "Israel of God"- and were all to share in the same complete "salvation package".
The physical bodies of believers, both Jew and Gentile, which Christ had purchased with the sacrifice of Himself (I Cor. 6:19,20) were never destined for abandonment in a grave plot, never to be reclaimed or restored to life. Christ doesn't forfeit ownership of His own property. So the discouraging error circulating among some of the early church believers (including some of the Thessalonians) was that their salvation and that of the dead believers would be incomplete - missing that last, final stage of having their raised physical bodies stand before God in heaven - not that they were lost souls that had missed out on salvation entirely.
And like you, Boyardee, I am still mulling over the abode for the souls of the dead from Pentecost (or rather, from Christ's ascension) up till the AD 70 Parousia. My impression is that Rev. 14:13 applies to this theme. The word "henceforth" seems to be a line of demarcation, beyond which conditions for the souls of the righteous dead experience something different than before that time. It's apparently connected to Paul's "absent from the body, present with the Lord" verse. The conditions of this "henceforth" time would also apply to us now, as well, upon our physical death.
Okay, apologies offered once more for the length of this comment. Thanks for the exchange of thoughts again, Boyardee.
While I get what you are saying about the two witnesses, I will have to disagree. I find it easier to believe that when they were called to "come up hither" and "went to heaven on a cloud", this was not code for be relocated on earth (which I believe is what transpired to Elijah) but it meant exactly what it said i.e. approaching the Ancient of days with the clouds.
I find it easier to believe the 3 and 1/2 days as figurative rather than literal and I find this "time period" to be the same as the 42 months, 1260 days, 3 and a half years, times time and half a time etc. Thus when it says after 3 and a half days in Rev 11, this simply means that after the "time period" they ascended to heaven and does not mean that the "time period" expired within the confines of the sixth trumpet before the seventh. We know from the rest of the book that the "time period" ends with the seventh trumpet. In other words, the mention of the witnesses ascension was a look into the future (so to speak) from the stand point of the sixth trumpet.
But IF we suppose that the resurrection and ascension of the two witnesses in Rev 11 includes in any way communicating their final ascension to heaven, then surely this ascension is the same as the one in 1 Thes 4 and IF that is so, then the two witnesses could very well be representing [part of] the church (the same part that is discussed in 1 Thessalonians).
I hear what you are saying about the context of Thessalonians but there is one point which is still unclear to me. I will give my understanding first:
When Paul says "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope... For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep"
I understand two things 1) that the Thessalonians sorrowed ONLY for the dead and 2) that the error that was causing the worry somehow said those alive would have some advantage over the dead, to which Paul said "No!" those alive have no advantage but we will all (together) have the same experience.
So, what do you glean from verse 13 and 15 about the error that was arising. While I understand what you are saying, the obstacle is this understanding that I have i.e. those alive still had hope for themselves in contrast to the explanation you are giving which implies that the error had actually taken away their (those still alive) hope as well.
With no real consensus going on regarding the two witnesses from any Preterist perspective, I'm trying not to be dogmatic on this issue. And I agree, there is precedent in Revelation for days being interpreted in a figurative sense, as you mentioned. This same year-for-a-day idea is found in the 10-day persecution for the church at Smyrna in Rev. 2:10. There, it's a rather obvious use of a figure of speech, and is one of the means I have used personally to help date Revelation's composition to the year just preceding AD 60. (The 10 "days" being an AD 60-70 persecution period, when some of John's Smyrna readers were ABOUT TO BE thrown into prison after the AD 59 Ephesian riot).
That being said, there is no reason for every use of the 3 1/2 year time period to be referring to the exact same time period on the calendar. There are several of these 3 1/2 year time periods that sometimes overlap, butt up to each other, or are in totally different sections of first-century history. I'm presuming from the way your comment is written that you take them to be just different ways of speaking about the same 3 1/2 year period, right? (Time, times, and half a time, 1260 days, and 42 months) If that's true, I would have to differ with you on that. So I'm not sure you could equate the 1260 days up until the two witnesses finish their testimony with the 3 1/2 "days" (if they are days) that follow their death and the 1260 days of testimony.
There are a few qualifiers within the account of the two witnesses that do help to date it. For one thing, the earthquake occurring around the time of their deaths destroys a 10th of the city and the 7,000 men. This could be rounded off numbers and percentages, but even at that, we are looking here at only a fraction of devastation compared to Jerusalem's complete annihilation at the end. This in itself indicates a timing for these two witnesses' deaths that is staged earlier on in the order of events. Conditions in Jerusalem at this point would only get progressively worse.
Another time marker dating the death of the two witnesses is found by comparing Rev. 11:14, (where the two witnesses' deaths are "PAST" history under the 6th trumpet), with Rev. 11:17 Interlinear (where it is said that Christ "is coming" during this 7th trumpet). You can't have Christ coming in the time of the 6th trumpet to raise the two dead witnesses and the I Thess. 4 saints, and then have Him coming again soon after in the time of the 7th trumpet also.
Another qualifier is the identity of the agent that makes war on the two witnesses and puts them to death. If you know who this agent is and when it appears, (and disappears), then you can use that information to identify the two witnesses. Rev. 11:7 identifies this agent as the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit.
There is only one other place in Revelation where this particular phrase is used - Rev. 17:8 - "The beast that thou sawest" (the scarlet-colored beast the whore rides on) "was, and is not, and IS ABOUT TO ASCEND OUT OF THE BOTTOMLESS PIT, and go into destruction." (The bottomless pit - the abyss - being the equivalent of a state of death, as it is compared to in Rom. 10:7). The "IS ABOUT TO" part means that this beast was about to reappear in John's day, briefly engage in its activities, and then be destroyed. This beast is the House of Annas (the high priest family) that WAS in power before John wrote Revelation, then WAS NOT when it fell out of power temporarily while another family stepped into the high priesthood. Then, it re-emerged in power under Ananus son of Annas in AD 62, followed by his nephew Matthias ben Theophilus in AD 65.
The House of Annas went to war against itself when Eleazar, Ananus' son, the hot-headed governor of the temple in AD 66 joined forces with the Zealots against his own father, who was trying to placate the Romans in order to preserve the city and its temple. In AD 68, these Zealots saw their chance to finally get rid of Ananus and Jesus, the other former high priest, by letting the Idumeans into the city under cover of the nighttime storm. "A house divided against itself cannot stand", Christ said. When Rev. 17:8 states that this beast "goes into destruction", this destruction is speaking of the death of the two witnesses, I believe. Eleazar did everything he could to kick-start the rebellion against Rome, while his father Ananus exerted every effort to stop him. Ananus lost in this conflict with his own son and the Zealots in AD 68, when the Idumeans were duped into helping the Zealots against the moderates who wanted peace. At least, that's my best understanding of the account of the two witnesses in Rev. 11 for the present.
Getting back to the I Thess. 4 "rapture" text again - I think we are having a disconnect on this point because we are each looking at the "alive" group and seeing two different definitions of who the "alive" are. You, I believe, are seeing them as the regular, Tom, Dick and Harry Christian believer in the Thessalonian church who had not died under persecution yet. I am looking at them as those who had been MADE alive by resurrection, and who had remained on the earth (the Matthew 27:52-53 saints).
Please do look carefully at the word "remain" in the Greek. Now, I make no pretense of any genuine skill in the Greek language, but even a cursory review of the word in the Greek dictionary shows that the root word for remain - "perileipo" - means "to leave over", with the implication of something being reserved, forsaken, or abandoned for a certain length of time. If it helps, try comparing the use of the word "remain" here in I Thess. 4 with how "remain" is used in Heb. 4:8,9 where it uses the root word "apoleipo" (literally, to be reserved) which is very similar to the "perileipo" term. "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God." In other words, a rest was set apart or reserved for the people of God to experience some time later.
All this tells me that these "alive" ones who "remained" are remaining because they had been "left over" for a particular purpose and a certain length of time before they were to rise and meet the Lord in the air with the newly-resurrected dead. Paul does NOT include himself in this number of "alive and remaining" ones. He is speaking as the representative leader and spokesman for the church. "We who are alive and remain" in paraphrase means "Those of our church body fellowship who qualify as being already made alive and who have remained among us as the Firstfruits from the First Resurrection".
If this was only referring to your generic Tom, Dick and Harry "living" person, there would be no need to inject a useless word like "remain" into the verse. Paul would have simply said, "We which are alive shall be caught up together with them..." As for the classic pre-mil understanding of this verse, the word "remain" is also a wasted term. If the entire church body of ordinary, living saints sees the righteous dead caught up in the clouds before their sight, in only "the twinkling of an eye", it would hardly justify using the term "remain" to describe the micro-second's worth of time that they would "remain" on the earth before they, too, would be translated and caught up to join them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
I have been accused of "overthinking" this subject on another website where I introduced this line of reasoning. You may perhaps agree with that, Boyardee. But I do appreciate getting to throw these thoughts out there, regardless of whether they are accepted or not. And if you have some criticisms of any of this, I promise to consider them carefully.
On Rev 11 and the 3 and a half days, that was a bit of a rash and unguarded statement but I will not take the time to set it all straight. However I still believe that the call to come up hither was not a relocation on earth and that IF it means their ascension to heaven THEN it must be the 1 Thes 4 resurrection (all points you raised duly noted nonetheless). The death of Ananus and Jesus could simply be one event of the beast's war against the saints of the Most High and an occasion where they have been overpowered by him and given into his hands (deliberate allusions to Daniel 7 there).
On 1 Thes 4, are you saying it is the first fruit who were worried (v13) about their dead?
If the error had eliminated the hope of resurrection, what hope was still left for believer?
Do you find in Paul's clarification of the parousia in verse 15 any hint that the error that was prevalent gave the living an advantage over the dead?
The way I am reading 1Thes 4 it is that an error had crept-in that still held hope for the living (i.e. the living would experience/enjoy the benefits of the parousia) but erred in saying the dead would miss out on it. This would make the living grieve for the dead specifically because the dead would effectively be lost.
IF my understanding is correct it implies two things
1) that the living expected the parousia in their lifetime (else they would grieve for themselves too as they were going to die eventually) and
2) that their hope [which the dead were to participate in but due to the error were being excluded from] was not physical resurrection (else they would not grieve when someone died because that is why there would be physical resurrection- their hope).
Don't confuse the actions of the beast from the sea (the one in Dan. 7 that would wear out the saints of God - i.e. Nero) with the actions of the beast rising out of the bottomless pit (the scarlet-colored one representing the House of Annas). They are not the same beast. There are, in fact, 3 beasts in Revelation - one from the sea, one from the land of Israel (the false prophet), and the one found in the wilderness that the harlot is riding. This last beast is the one that arises from the bottomless pit, turns on itself, and destroys one of its own high priests, Ananus son of Annas.
The symbolism of the 2 candlesticks and the 2 olive trees I believe is meant to represent the high priesthood who literally "stood before the God of the earth" in the Holy Place of the temple, as a light for the people with an unending source of oil that was never supposed to burn out. (See Zech. 3:1 and 4:12-14) Ananus and Jesus/Joshua were both former high priests. When they were both murdered, it symbolically extinguished the light of the temple, demonstrating its imminent destruction.
You asked, "...are you saying it is the first fruit who were worried (v13) about their dead?" No, the Firstfruits resurrected saints had no reason to worry about anything, ever again. What does an indestructible, incorruptible individual have to worry about? God's power to raise them bodily from among the dead was not exhausted, and would accomplish the same action during the 2nd resurrection for those righteous dead still in the ground in those days.
You ask, "If the error had eliminated the hope of resurrection, what hope was still left for believers?" Well, they at least were still convinced that Christ's Parousia would exact vengeance upon those who were persecuting them at that time. As II Thess. 1:7-10 reassures them, God would recompense tribulation to those that troubled them, and bring release from the physical persecutions and tribulations they were enduring. However, if they thought the righteous dead would never rise, that would mean that the dead would miss out on seeing vengeance brought down on those who persecuted them while they were alive. This would be one advantage that those who survived until the Parousia would experience - a vindication of their cause, with justice doled out for the persecutors.
One more note on the word "remain" as it appears in I Thess. 4:15,17: if the intent of this word is "to leave over", or "to reserve or set apart" something, then this would match perfectly with the 144,000 Firstfruits saints (from Matt. 27:52-53) who are SEALED, or reserved for a special purpose in Rev. 7:3-8. To seal something is to put a predicted outcome on hold temporarily, (in this case, the "rapture" of the resurrected ones), until a set time period expires.