Chapter 10 - One or Two Raptures?: The evolution of the Dispensationalist view
To understand the proposed theory of the seven decades cycle the subject of the "rapture" must be defined and evaluated. The term "rapture" is neither stated nor located in the Bible. It is a term developed out of the Latin translations:
1st Thessalonians 4:17 -
"Deinde nos, qui vivimus, qui relinquimur, simul rapiemur cum illis in nubibus obviam Christo in aëra, et sic semper cum Domino erimus".
1st Corinthians 15:51-52 -
"Ecce mysterium vobis dico: omnes quidem resurgemus, sed non omnes immutabimur.""In momento, in ictu oculi, in novissima tuba: canet enim tuba, et mortui resurgent incorrupti: et nos immutabimur."
The evidence from 1st Corinthians is connected with the subject because of the interconnectedness of the doctrine of Jesus' resurrection. However, the question for this chapter is something which is stated by Paul showing another follower questioning this event. In 2nd Timothy 2:17-18 is says that Hymenaeus and Philetus were telling members of the early Christian community that the "resurrection" already occurred. This misunderstanding is derived from the Gospel of Matthew 27:52-53! Hymenaeus and Philetus possibly both attended the Eulogy of James describing them as "saints". This confusion created the exchange in the 2nd Timothy document. Or is it really a confusion?
If we accept the idea that a spiritual "rapture" occurred in Jerusalem years before then we could properly assume that there are two raptures.
Is the next one spiritual or physical? Was it meant to be a literal type of "rapture" popularized in many Christian oriented movies and films?
It is true that the Gospels gives plenty of parables presenting to its readers that one will be working in the field and then taken. Was this a later invention not earlier stated in the Gospels?
The above exchange noted in the Timothy collection gives reasons to believe that there was an earlier official position within the Christian leadership of James. Rather, a "spiritual" resurrection of the 'Body of Christ'(The Jewish-Christian saints of Jerusalem during that earlier time and era) which is described in the Gospel of Matthew 27:52-53. When the supposed resurrection of a human Jesus occurred the "saints" of Jerusalem where mostly the Jewish-Christian followers of Jesus who were dispatched to the city to proclaim the ‘Good News’. The evidence is also highlighted with the "Sabbath" regulation for travelling in Matthew 24:20 which is directed towards the Jewish-Christian community and not the later Gentile Christian members(Mark 13:14).
Is it possible to disregard the 2nd Timothy evidence and/or suggest that Hymenaeus is incorrect? The evidence from this collection creates a problem than a solution to Paul's prediction. Paul's reaction was to safeguard his own version of event. The reason is because the verse from th Gospel of Matthew is not found in the pro-Paul Gospels of Mark and Luke. Therefore, though deduction Hymenaeus and Philetus were probably veterans from the Matthew 27:52-53 "Good News" operation started by James. This only means three conclusions:
(1) The Gospels were edited later and revised to fit new conditions.
(2) Matthew later forgot to remove Matthew 27:52-53 from the Gospels when he later revised it.
(3) Matthew left the verses in his Gospel so not to attract suspicions from the "Good News" gospel veterans within the segment of the diminishing Jewish-Christian members of the Christian community. Hymenaeus was one of these veterans and was a constant skeptic and doubter(1st Timothy 1:20). If it was edited out those who read Hebrew, like Hymenaeus, would have created further divisions within an already sensitive environment (James 4:1).
I think option three is more fitting knowing through historical record Matthew revised and edited his own Gospel:
"As having learnt by tradition concerning the four Gospels, which alone are unquestionable in the Church of God under heaven, that first was written according to Matthew, who was once a tax collector but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, who published it for those who from Judaism came to believe, composed as it was in the Hebrew language." - Origen (Eusebius, H.E. 6.25.4)
Here are possible conclusions:
(1) If we are to keep with Paul's position it is an assumption of a literal event which has never occurred whether spiritual or physical then we would have to edit out Matthew 27:52-53. However, this is not the case and Matthew left the verses there for future generations and most importantly not to upset the veterans of this operation. Moreover, this would include the anamoly or outlier of Matthew 24:20 mentioning the observation of "Sabbath" during traveling during an end time prediction. Again, if we accept Paul's position then the Gospel of Matthew contains a mistake or an error or a flaw.
(2) If we are to accept Matthew 27:52-53 verses then we are in the same camp with Hymenaeus. Therefore, we would be concluding that "rapture" was spiritual and already occurred.
(3) If we are to accept some form of a hybrid or matrix between Paul and Hymenaeus positions then we would have to conclude there are two "raptures".
The absurdity of the last one is to suggest that the first one was a template for the second one stated by Paul. Therefore, there could be only one or the other.
Overall, the 2nd Timothy passage shows us that there is a clash of ideas:
Thesis(earlier resurrection/rapture expressed through Hymenaeus) vs. Antithesis(Paul's later revision) = Synthesis(The absurdity of the two together).
I will now present evidence that the doctrine of "rapture", proposed by Paul, is a recycled idea from the previous event stated in Matthew 27:52-53. The recycle idea is supported by other evidence in agreement with Hymenaeus and Philetus protest against Paul's revision by presenting earlier Old Testament sources. These Old Testament sources are the very sources which are also used to defend the main body of opinions by the early church leaders. These earlier Old Testament “prophecies” which are also evidence of false prediction were also used by Jewish leaders and individuals years after the Temple’s destruction. Nevertheless, it could also be proven that most Old Testament “prophecies” used are also false predictions but are later explained as allegories by Christian commentators. These Christian commentators existed 30 years after the destruction of the Temple and their comments defend their doctrine using many false predictions from the Old Testament. The subject concerning the improper use of Old Testament “prophecies” will be discussed in another chapter.
First, the Jewish preconceived notions that "resurrection"/"rapture" concerns a national revival and therefore spiritual or symbolic in form:
Ezekiel chapter 37
Second, the hypothetical process James went through to develop this specific idea:
Psalms chapter 31
Psalms chapter 37
James concentrated on these verses Psalms 37:28 and Psalms 31:9,17,21.
Third, the application of the idea:
Hymenaeus and some of the Jewish-Christian were simply following an earlier application of events dictated to them by James. It could not just be the case that Hymenaeus held the Jewish preconceived notion because this would have easily been seen as a clear heresy among the Christians. Hymenaeus clearly was expressing something closer to the earlier opinions of the leadership. Remember, Hymenaeus is no longer part of the Jewish nation but rather a "Christian". Hymenaeus and others like him were simply following what occurred in Matthew 27:52-53. This confusion would explain..."overthrow the faith of some"(2nd Timothy 2:18). This is because he may have had evidence to support his claim. The textual evidence would have clearly been what is stated in the Hebrew collection of Matthew(Matthew 27:52-53). This evidence would have confused many new gentile Christians because it is from a "Christian" source and not a Jewish one.
The application of the idea is what James had done in the eulogy of Jesus on Sunday morning after the massive earthquake on Friday. The idea was to have the followers of Jesus to go into the city of Jerusalem and proclaim the "Good News". This action would result in three things according to James:
(1) It would have distinguished the new Christian movement from the rest of the messianic movements during those times.
(2) To spread a new doctrine while the people are recovering from a massive earthquake because they may be more susceptible to accept something containing hope and deliverance.
(3) To preserve the ranks of the new Christian movement in both events: after the massive Earthquake and after the death of their messiah - Jesus of Nazareth.
The Zechariah passage is important because it may have played a part in James' reasoning. It may be the case that when the massive Earthquake occurred Jesus fell off the wooden pole and landed feet first. When James read over such a verse it may have played in his mind that Jesus' death was supernaturally connected.
It must be understood that the term - saints - evolved from describing only the Jewish nation then into describing the Jewish-Christians and finally into describing both Jewish-Christians and Gentile Christians.
The Jewish nation - Deuteronomy 33:2, Psalms 31:23, Psalms 37:28,Psalms 149:1-9, Psalms 150:1-5, Zechariah 14:5, Ezekiel chapter 37, and Isaiah 26:14,19-21.
Here we observe the evolution of a term. It is stated 68 times in the Bible. It is a term which has evolved in describing the Jewish nation, the Jewish-Christians, and finally the total "Body of Christ"(Jewish-Christians and Gentile Christians). Only a portion of it was presented which were relevant to show the evolution of the term.
The Jewish-Christians - Matthew 27:52-53(Psalms 37:11,22,28) supported by Matthew 24:20 and Hosea 6:1-3.
The "Body of Christ"(Jewish-Christians and Gentile Christians) - 1st Corinthians 16:1, 2nd Corinthians 9:1, Ephesians 1:1, Ephesians 2:12-19, Romans chapter 11, Philippians 1:1, Colossians 1:2, 1st Corinthians 6:1-2, Romans 16:2-17, Philemon 1:5, Jude 1:3, Romans 1:1, Revelation 15:3, Revelation 16:6, Philippians 4:15-23, Hebrews 6:10, Ephesians 4:12, Romans 15:24-26, Acts 26:10-11.
The most important aspect is the evolution of the term to finally understand Paul's construct of his new "mystery": "rapture"(1st Corinthians 15:51-52 = Joshua 10:12 and 1st Thessalonians 4:17 = Joshua 6:5-20).
There is nothing mysterious of the new idea and it is not an original idea. Paul simply constructed a new idea through reading the Old Testament (2nd Timothy 4:13). Therefore, introducing a new paradigm of thinking among the "Body of Christ" and more especially among the Gentile Christians. It is very highly probable that Hebrew was not understood by the new Christians. It would have been easy for Paul to develop the idea and deliver it knowing that the new Christians could not refute it because they could not read Hebrew. The only ones which gave Paul trouble, through apparent evidence, were the Jewish-Christians who knew Hebrew and also attended the eulogy given by James. The Jewish-Christians who experienced the Matthew 27:52-53 event would have opposed Paul's interpretation of events and his new theory. The subject concerning the ‘Eulogy’ will be explained in another chapter.
Today, many individuals have interpreted Paul's new theory as fact. However, when the reader carefully investigates the information the conclusion is much different.
The concept developed through the rich history of Christian eschatology and popularized by John Nelson Darby in the 1830's. It is classified as a pre-Tribulationist view among some modern Christians. However, by careful inspection the term was invented by a charismatic personalities like Paul of Tarsus and John the author of Revelation. The evidence of confusion among the modern Christians regarding the timing of Paul's hypothetical event is sufficient evidence to suggest that Rapture has no real basis or reality. The actual event is a spiritual description and it derived from a past event which already happened in the Gospel of Matthew 27:52-53.
The theories developed out of Christian eschatology has created more confusion, even changes in public policy and introduced philosophical absurdities. For this to be investigated properly, the section on Millennialism and Dispensationalism must be discussed.
In Revelation 20:6, John presented a compromise between Paul's Dispensationalism and Matthew 27:52-53 (Hymenaeus group doctrine). This verse shows the very question presented and the evolution of the meaning of Rapture.