O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Hi again Steve,
EXACTLY!! Yes, yes, and yes! It took my awkward fumbling through a Greek / English dictionary and some lengthy scripture comparisons to finally understand that very point. Just as you say, the "remaining" term is very specific - it doesn't just mean that there was an eye-twinkle's worth of time between the dead rising to meet Christ and the other "alive and remaining" ones following them a mere microsecond's worth of time later. The Greek term for "remain" does not agree with that interpretation.
The Greek term "perileipo" in I Thess 4 means literally "to leave over". It is very similar to the "apoleipo" term which literally means "to be reserved". We have an example of this "apoleipo" term in Hebrews 4:8,9 that says "There remaineth therefore, a rest to the people of God." A rest was going to be RESERVED for the people of God. Held in reserve until a specified time later on.
When we transfer these more correct nuances of the term "remain" into the I Thess 4 "rapture" text, it definitely gives the sense that those who were "alive" (actually those who had been MADE ALIVE by a bodily-resurrection) had been set apart for a particular intended purpose. This runs counter to the usual interpretation of a supposedly-translated group of the church who will be delayed in their transport to heaven for that mere micro-second of time before they, too, leave the planet's surface. That idea has been so indoctrinated into the subconscious mind of most Christians that if you dare mention any other alternative to the usual rapture interpretation, they look at you as if you had sprouted horns.
There was NO translation type change of the ordinary living believers in AD 70. It's just not there in the I Thess. 4 "rapture" text. Rather, those "ALIVE" ones were the Matthew 27 saints and those like them who had already been made alive by a bodily resurrection, who were then "reserved", or who "remained" on the planet for God's particular purpose of presenting the gospel to "all the nations" before the end of the OC Age in AD 70. This is why this 144,000 group of Matt. 27 saints were the only ones who "could learn that song" in Rev. 14. They had an experience that no believers on this earth had ever experienced in the past, and would never experience again: to be "reserved" on the earth in their bodily-resurrected state to serve Christ's early church through that period of great persecution in the first century.
Here's a link to a comment I made to this very point you are making, Steve: http://www.gracecentered.com/christian_forums/end-times-forum/the-f...'secret-rapture'/ Scroll down and look at comment #86 in particular, though I make several comments on this one post about this subject.
Patricia, here is an example of the viewpoint that Matthew 27:52-53 was added and not apart of the original draft. https://www.truthortradition.com/articles/what-about-matthew-2752-a...
They seem to come to this conclusion mainly because the other gospel accounts omit this particular event and provide a few verses showing that no man has ascended up into heaven before Christ etc..
What is striking about this commentary is the fact that they admit many early church fathers as early as Ignatius mentioned the Matthew 27:52-53 saints in their commentaries. Ignatius was born in 35AD and lived in Syria. Surely Ignatius would have met some of the apostles in person during the 50's-60's AD. However, this commentator is convinced Matthew 27:52-53 must have been added at some point before the second century.
I poked around a bit and found what I think is a good link to the very oldest manuscript ever - the "Codex Sinaiticus" - hand copied in the 4th century. This is from Constantine's time. The website gives you a digital view of the actual parchment pages, with a transcription box and also a translation box beside it. Pretty cool, I thought. Been available online since 2009. And the Matthew 27:52-53 verses ARE in it. I compared the transcription to my Interlinear version, and it is almost an exact duplicate.
Here's the link: http://www.codex-sinaiticus.net/en/
I also read several times through the link you gave above at the "truth or tradition" site. He offers many of the usual objections and arguments against the Matthew 27:52-53 account. And because I just can't help myself, I made a critique of his critique.
There are a series of problems with the arguments the author is putting forward against the Matthew 27:52-53 verses that include the following:
#1) It is pointless for the author to make the charge that none of the other gospel accounts of the crucifixion include this Matt. 27:52-53 event. We could say the very same thing about the Lazarus-raised-from-the-dead story found only in John, as well as the Nicodemus encounter with Christ by night. Should we question the authenticity of those stories as well, because they are only told by one gospel author? How about the young man fleeing the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane without his clothes - mentioned only in Mark? And there are other examples.
Any good police investigator would say that the random manner in which various accounts are written by a group of eye-witnesses from their individual perspectives lends credulity to the testimony given. That same type of random presentation by the gospel authors shows evidence that they did not mutually rehearse and falsely present an artificially-synchronized record.
#2) The author of the article states as a fact - without justification - that any individuals raised from the dead in scripture simply died again later on. This is in error. Not only do we have NO scripture evidence stating this, but we have the opposing crystal-clear statement that "...it is appointed unto men ONCE TO DIE" (not twice), "but after this, the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). There is no double jeopardy when it comes to the death penalty.
Moreover, "Christ being raised from the dead, DIETH NO MORE: death hath no more dominion over Him." (Romans 6:9). If we share in the identical type of resurrection as "joint heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17), then we too, being raised from the dead, cannot possibly die any more either. The certainty of our bodily resurrection is a mirror of the certainty of our spiritual adoption as children of God. Once adopted, God never changes our status as children of God: we are never rejected and sent back to the orphanage.
In the same manner, once raised from the dead bodily, a saint never changes that resurrected status either. You might as well claim that the Holy Spirit can die, since He is the agent required to bodily-raise a saint from the grave and infuse them with incorruptible life, just as the Spirit raised Christ from the sepulcher (Romans 8:11).
#3) The author claims that the Matthew 27 resurrected saints appear nowhere else in scripture. Actually, that's not true. The clearest example is the Ephesians 4:8-12 verses that talk specifically about them as the "multitude of captives" that a resurrecting Christ brought with Him out of the grave and gave as "gifts" to men.
This raising of the "multitude" - the "MANY bodies of the saints" in Matt. 27 - was prophesied to happen in Psalms 68:18. How else did Hymenaeus and Philetus get the impression that a resurrection was PAST already, as II Tim. 2:18 tells us? The only way they could have formed that opinion is if they had either seen or heard about some of this group of 144,000 Firstfruits saints that had been restored to eternal life.
And for another scripture reference to them, the Matthew 27 saints' resurrection is described by the first sickle harvest in Rev. 14:14-16 (just after the 144,000 Firstfruits saints had been spoken of earlier in the chapter). This is when the crowned Son of Man sitting on a cloud (newly crowned as our high priest), reaps the dried harvest (of those who have been long dead) out of the earth (ge - the land of Israel). This is NOT describing the later harvest of resurrection in AD 70, because that AD 70 resurrection "harvest" was done by the "reapers" (i.e., the angels in Matt. 13:39) at the end of the Old Covenant Age. Here in Revelation 14:14, it is ONLY the Son of Man doing the reaping of the harvest by Himself. That means it has to refer to the Matthew 27:52-53 Firstfruits saints raised by the resurrected Christ - the "Lord of the Harvest" raising His own Firstfruits laborers to enter into His harvest (as in Matthew 9:38). There are several other scriptural references that speak of the Matthew 27 resurrected saints, but I won't put them all here.
#4) The author of the article says there is no historical record of these saints rising from the dead, but that also is not true. For those who demand extra-biblical evidence of the Matthew 27:52-53 saints being raised from the dead, besides the Quadratus quote from Eusebius' Church History I have mentioned already, there is always the account in the "Book of Nicodemus".
#5) The author of the article erroneously claims that the believability of the Matthew 27:52-53 account is suspect because the Greek phrases it as if the saints were raised on the day of crucifixion, (not 3 days later), and would have hung around their tombs, twiddling their thumbs for 3 days, just waiting for Christ to be raised so they could go into the city to be seen by many. I don't know how he or anyone else can make that assumption. For one thing, the Ephesians 4:8 account says that Christ "led a multitude of captives" upon His resurrection. That means they came out of the grave, with Christ LEADING them - not following 3 days after them.
In addition, John 5:25-26 proves that the Matthew 27 saints could NOT POSSIBLY have been bodily raised before Christ was. It would take the VOICE of a LIVING CHRIST to speak and transmit life into the dead bodies of the saints. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour IS COMING" (in AD 33 at the "First Resurrection") "and NOW IS" (because Christ and the disciples were even then raising people from the dead) "when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself:" This tells us that an outside living force is required to act upon the dead to give them the ability to respond and be restored to a living, incorruptible body. The same principle also applies to the spiritual realm of soul regeneration, as was mentioned just previously in John 5:24.
The author of this article is not considering the difference of the resurrection of any individuals BEFORE AD 70 and the "BETTER resurrection" mentioned in Hebrews 11:35-40 that would include ALL the resurrected saints joining together to meet the Lord in the air in the Pentecost Day resurrection of AD 70. This was the "BETTER THING" that Hebrews 11:40 spoke of - to have all the bodily-resurrected saints that had been given perfected bodies, souls, and spirits being "received" corporately unto Christ in heaven, that where He was, they could be also.
Even though the Matthew 27 saints DID receive the resurrection of an incorruptible body at the time, while they waited on earth laboring for the gospel, they were earnestly desiring to join the rest of the saints when they would all together be taken to heaven in the "BETTER resurrection" event of AD 70. John 5:28 also refers to the timing of this AD 70 "better resurrection".
#6) The author states that "...these saints did not join the apostles" in linking up with them after their resurrection. This too is incorrect, because of Paul's testimony in Romans 8:23 that the church HAD the Firstfruits among them.
It is also confirmed in Hebrews 12:22-23 that those believers being written to had come to "...the church of the Firstborn" (the 144,000 Firstfruits saints), "which are written in heaven" (or enrolled on the books in heaven), "and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect" (the just ones being the Matthew 27 saints that had been perfected bodily, as Christ was perfected in a glorious, resurrected form - Hebrews5:9). This tells us the first century church was rubbing elbows with some of these just ones - the Matthew 27 saints, who had already been given perfected forms, just like Christ's.
#7) The author is also mistaken when he says that Jesus is the only one given the title of the Firstfruits. Revelation 14:4 is evidence against that. The 144,000 list of Jewish saints are called the Firstfruits. Likewise, the Hebrews 12:23 verse above calls those perfected just ones the "Firstborn ones". They share the same title as Christ the Firstfruits because this remnant of saints shared the same event with Him in the "First Resurrection".
The critical difference between Christ and those raised with Him was that Christ was the first to ENTER HEAVEN and STAND BEFORE GOD in that resurrected form. This aligns perfectly with the John 3:13 restriction that has Jesus telling Nicodemus that no one had yet ascended to heaven by then (in AD 30/31). Neither would anyone bodily ascend to heaven until the resurrection in AD 70, as Revelation 15:8 tells us. And the author is mistaken in saying that John 3:13 was not part of Jesus' speech to Nicodemus. It was.
#8) The author poses some unrealistic difficulties for these Matthew 27 saints. "Where would they go?" he asks. "All of their families were long dead and they would not have had any jobs or places to stay. Certainly they would have joined the disciples for support, yet they are missing on the day of Pentecost." This is nothing short of ridiculous. Does an incorruptible, resurrected saint NEED ANYTHING for support? Food is not needed, rest is not needed, certainly a job is not needed for income, shelter is not needed, protection from danger or death is not needed, etc. Did Jesus NEED any support in His resurrected state? Neither did these Matthew 27 resurrected saints. They were there to serve the early church - not be served.
#9) The author thinks it is a problem that the scriptures don't make any reference to the religious leaders during the Pentecost period or later mentioning the presence of these Matthew 27 saints. To counter that, I would say that not even Jesus appeared to everyone in the Jerusalem area after His resurrection. Acts 10:40-41 tells us that He only appeared to SPECIFIC ONES that were chosen. "Him God raised up the third day and showed Him openly; NOT TO ALL THE PEOPLE, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead." God doesn't throw pearls before swine, which is probably why those murderous religious leaders who had opposed Christ were not granted a view of the risen Christ at that time - nor of the resurrected Matthew 27 saints either, apparently.
#10) Last of all, I'm not sure why the author makes a big problem out of Matthew 27 saying that it was the "bodies" of saints which arose, and not the saints themselves who arose. Paul makes the same emphasis on the mortal body arising in Romans 8:11 "But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your MORTAL BODIES by His Spirit that dwelleth in you."
The bodily resurrection was a concept refuted by the Sadducees and much of the pagan world at the time. I would say that Matthew 27:52-53 put special emphasis on the fact that it was BODIES that arose, simply to forestall a protest by someone with the mindset of the Sadducees, who would be inclined to dismiss such an event, because it did not agree with their viewpoint of no bodily resurrection.
Well, Steve, that's my attempt at scripturally countering the supposed logic of that author, (a Mr. Dan Gallagher, I believe). His main point is that he doesn't think there are any valid resurrections independent of a one-and-only resurrection by the Lord at His appearing, (presumably at the end of all history on this planet). In that view, he is mistaken. The proof lies in comparing all of the other texts that describe these Matthew 27 saints and their activity and purpose after their resurrection. The evidence is there; it just requires some digging.
"This is contrary, as you know, to the usual misinterpretation of II Peter 3:10-12, which most believe is predicting a total annihilation of the planet by fire at Christ's return."
This is another example of the exegetical contradictions within dispensational theology. Supposing that this is referring to Christ's second coming to earth in our future and the judgement described in Revelation being global in scale, how do they(dispensationalists) come to the conclusion that when Christ returns to earth it will be destroyed by fire... but isn't Christ supposed to set up his millennial kingdom on the earth from a literal throne in a literal Jerusalem and reign over ethnic Jewish and gentile subjects who survive the tribulation until Satan is released to deceive them again?