1 Corinthians 15:50 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13: Preterism, the Rapture and the Resurrection
Preterism, the Rapture and the Resurrection: Summary and Highlights
Do 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 predict a resurrection, rapture or both? At the start of the Jewish War, two Roman historians record what appears to be a multitude of the dead rising out of the earth at the sound of a trumpet in what looks like a literal resurrection of the dead in the first century. Is there any historical evidence of a rapture of the saints as well? In the following commentary, Biblical and historical evidence as well as testimony from near-death experiences (NDE’s) provide a compelling case that 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 have literally been fulfilled! Before reading the following commentary, I recommend reading The Notion that the Resurrection is an Earthly Phenomenon whereby the Dead are raised as Perfected, Eternal Earthly Bodies is dispelled by 1 Corinthians 15:35-50 and Isaiah 65:20, How the Resurrection Bodies of the Saints Perfectly Mirror Jesus’ Resurrection Body after His Ascension Into Heaven Fulfilling Philippians 3:20-21 and ALL Other Bible Verses on the Resurrection!!!, and Understanding the Garden of Eden and the Fall from an Old Earth Perspective. The above links discuss how the resurrection is a mirror opposite of the fall and how the Bible teaches that the resurrection of the saints is a resurrection of perfected heavenly bodies. The following commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 will discuss the compelling historical, Biblical and NDE evidence that the resurrection was a past event and that the saints are now resurrected into heaven immediately after death.
The following may seem unbelievable. However, all information is taken from unbiased historical sources and is easily verifiable. Sources are also listed at the bottom of the page.
1 Corinthians 15:50 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13: Preterism, the Rapture and the Resurrection
Preterism and the Rapture: Was there a Literal Rapture in A.D. 70?
A growing number of Preterist Christians believe in a literal rapture at the time of the resurrection in A.D. 70. These Preterists believe that first century Christians who were alive during the resurrection were immediately transformed into their resurrection bodies as they ascended into heaven in A.D. 70. Because the resurrection body is a heavenly body, the rapture would have been invisible and for this reason is not found in the historical record. These Preterists believe that a rapture of all first century Christian saints helps explains why the church today is still awaiting the second coming since, if this is true, there would have been no Christians left on planet earth to testify to future generations of the coming of Christ on the clouds of heaven. Was there a literal rapture in A.D. 70?
Preterism and the Resurrection: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 were historically interpreted to refer to the Resurrection.
Though it is possible that a literal rapture could have occurred in A.D. 70, I believe that 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 are best understood in the traditional way–as descriptions of the resurrection, not rapture.1 The rapture is a relatively new Christian doctrine made popular especially in American evangelical circles. Most Christians living in a culture where the rapture is deeply engraved in church teaching might see these verses as irrefutable proof of this doctrine. However, for almost two thousand years most Christians understood that these verses referred to the resurrection of the dead. How could this be? Before answering this question, let’s take a look at 1 Corinthians 15:50-54:
50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
Despite being less than two hundred years old, the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture has grown in popularity so quickly that many modern Christians assume its validity almost axiomatically. Part of the reason this teaching has spread so quickly is because of an excerpt from another one of Paul’s letters. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul writes:
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Preterist Theology and the Resurrection: Before the Crucifixion of Christ, Old Covenant Saints had No Sacrifice for Sin to purge Them from the Curse of Spiritual Death, Separation from God. After Biological Death, These Saints were confined in Separation from God in Sheol, the Afterlife Realm of Spiritual Death, to await the Resurrection.
The Bible indicates that before the resurrection, both the righteous and wicked were consigned to Sheol (Genesis 37:35) or Hades. Hades is the Greek translation of Sheol. So what is Sheol and Hades? Before Jesus died for the remission of sins; past, present and future; the Old Covenant saints had no sacrifice for sin to purge them from the curse of spiritual death. Spiritual death is separation from God. Thus these saints were confined to Sheol, the underworld of spiritual death, after biological death. Sheol is spiritual death because it is continued separation from God in heaven after physical death. Sheol is synonymous with death in the Bible and is often simply translated “death” in English translations of the Bible. According to the Bible it is in Sheol that the departed await the resurrection. Sheol appears to be a realm of darkness that is often described as a pit (Ezekiel 32:21-23). It may also be called “outer darkness” by Jesus in the New Testament (Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:30). It is in this realm of spiritual death that the dead are temporarily separated from God prior to the resurrection (see Do the Dead Sleep Prior to the Resurrection?).
A Full Preterist View of the Resurrection: 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 imply that the Saints Who have outlived the Resurrection will be raised to Heaven after Death without a lengthy Imprisonment in Sheol while Those still in Sheol at the Resurrection will rise to Heaven First.
Having described the curse of Sheol, spiritual death, during the Old Covenant Age and how those confined in this dark realm of death were released at the resurrection, let us now take another look at 1 Corinthians 15:51-52: “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 appears to be describing the resurrection of the dead out of Sheol at the last trumpet. Prior to A.D. 70 the departed “sleep” in Sheol until the resurrection at the last trumpet. However, after the last trumpet sounds 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 implies that the dead do not “sleep” prior to their resurrection. Why? Those who die after the last trumpet do not sleep because they are raised “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye” without being confined to Sheol first. These verses suggest that during and after the resurrection at the last trumpet, many people will no longer be imprisoned in death or the sleepy realm of Sheol before resurrecting from the dead.
1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 seems to echo this point. It sems that the reason why the “the dead in Christ will rise first” is because those “who are left until the coming of the Lord” must wait until their individual time of death sometime after the last trumpet before they are “changed” into their resurrection bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Thus I believe the “change” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 begins at the last trumpet and continues thereafter immediately at the time of physical death.
What about the fact that the saints are said to meet the Lord in the air in 1 Thessalonians 4:17? The Greek word for air in this verse is interchangeable with sky or heaven, the afterlife realm of the blessed (Ephesians 2:2, 2:6; 6:12; Revelation 12:7-9). In many languages, like English, heaven has two meanings: the firmament and the afterlife realm of the blessed.
The clouds in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 upon which the saints meet the Lord is the Glory Cloud, the quintessential Biblical sign of the spiritual presence of God (Exodus 40:34-38; Leviticus 16:22; Samuel 22:8-15; Isaiah 66:15-16; Psalm 18:6-16; 50:3; 97:1-5; 144:5). The fact that the saints meet the Lord in the Glory Cloud during the resurrection is illustrated in the transfiguration. See How and Why 2 Peter 1:16-18 Implies that the Transfiguration is a Visionary Type of the Second Coming and How Every Element of the Transfiguration Literally Modeled the Various Manifestations of the First Century Parousia. See also The “Change” that the Living Experienced Who have outlived the Resurrection at the Last Trumpet in 1 Corinthians 15:52 May Also be a Covenantal Change.
Preterism and the Individual Body View of the Resurrection: In Light of 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, the Word “Caught Up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 does not mean that the Saints are Raptured or Raised to Heaven Corporally.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 says that the saints will be “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air. “The words ‘caught up’ are [from] the Greek word harapazo, it means: ‘to snatch away.’ Interestingly harapazo or “caught up” is also found in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 and Revelation 12:5:
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up [harapazo] to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—was caught up [harapazo] into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).
And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up [harapazo] to God and to His throne (Revelation 12:5).
Notice that in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 and Revelation 12:5 harapazo or “caught up” is applied to those taken to heaven, the realm of God and angels, not the literal sky. In many languages like English “heaven,” the afterlife realm of the blessed, is the same word for “sky.” Similar meaning is often implied in related words like “air.” Satan is called “the prince of the power of the air” in Ephesians 2:2. Satan is called “the prince of the power of the air” because before being cast out of heaven, Satan’s throne was in heaven (Ephesians 6:12, Revelation 12:7-9). I believe the same meaning is implied in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 where the saints are said to meet the Lord in the “air”: Air is heaven. This is also what appears to be implied in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 since 1 Thessalonians 4:17 says that it is here, presumably in the air (heaven), that the saints remain with Christ forever: “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” Will the saints be trapped in the air with the Lord forever, or will the saints be with the Lord forever in heaven? As stated above and implied by the use of harapazo in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 and Revelation 12:5 the “air” mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is heaven (Ephesians 2:2, 2:6; Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 12:7-9) where the saints are said to reign with Christ forever: “[A]nd [Christ] raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus[.]” (Ephesians 2:6)
But doesn’t the fact that the saints are said in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 to meet the Lord in the clouds imply that “air” is literal thus suggesting a rapture of the living? No. As stated above, the fact that the saints are said to meet the Lord in the clouds is an allusion to the Glory Cloud, the quintessential sign of the presence of God. The Glory Cloud marking the presence of God is mentioned often in Scripture (2 Samuel 22:8-15; Isaiah 66:15-16; Psalm 18:6-16; 50:3; 97:1-5; 144:5; Exodus 40:34-38; Leviticus 16:2; Ezekiel 1:4). The fact that the saints are to be raised to meet the Lord in the Glory Cloud and that the Glory Cloud truly and normally exists in heaven (except for perhaps during judgment comings) appears to me to be implied in the Dead Sea Scrolls: “And He [the Lord] lifts him [the saints] up to the clouds to share a common assembly with the ‘gods.’”2 Do the “gods” or heavenly host normally reside in literal earthly clouds? Or are the angels of the presence of God normally and typically present in heaven (Genesis 28:12, Matthew 18:10, Acts 7:48-49, Revelation 7:11)?
As stated above, the holy saints are expected to be raised to heaven to reside with the Lord in the presence of the holy angels at the resurrection. The fact that the saints are to be raised to heaven at the resurrection to reside with the angels therein may be implied by a comparison between 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and Hebrews 1:7. Hebrews 1:7 reads, “And of the angels He says, who makes His angels winds[.]” [Emphasis mine.] Of course wind and air are the same thing. Thus when the saints are said to be caught up in the air in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, perhaps this verse also implies that these people were to be brought into the presence of the winds or holy angels of the presence of God in heaven? See Why the Formal Understanding of Parousia does Not Appear to be Violated in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 with a Resurrection of the Dead to Heaven in A.D. 70.
Realized Eschatology and the Resurrection: Revelation 14:13 and Revelation 21:24-26 support the Resurrection Interpretation of these Verses.
The fact that the saints who have outlived the parousia are raised to heaven immediately after death is supported by Revelation 14:13 and Revelation 21:24-26. Revelation 14:13 reads, “’Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.’” Revelation 21:24-26 presents a similar message. According to these verses, the gates of the New Jerusalem are always open in order to forever allow the nations and kings of the earth to “bring their splendor into it.” If the rapture and resurrection occur all at once, as is commonly supposed in futurist circles, how is it that according to Revelation 14:13 and Revelation 21:24-26 people are continuously entering the New Jerusalem long after the resurrection and the rapture? These verses challenge this idea. However, what is stated in Revelation 21:24-26 and Revelation 14:13 are exactly what one would expect if life on earth continues after the end of the age and the saints who have outlived the resurrection are each raised to heaven at the time of death.
The Preterist Individual Body View of the Resurrection is Supported by the Pseudepigrapha: The Fact that the Souls of the Saints are Released from Satan’s confinement in Hades to Heaven at the End of the Age is also Found in the Pseudepigrapha.
The fact that the saints are raised out of Satanic confinement in Hades to heaven at the end of the age is also taught in the Pseudepigrapha. 1 Enoch 104:2-3 reads, “[A]nd your names [the saints] are written before the glory of the Great One. Be hopeful; for aforetime ye were put to shame through ill and affliction; but now ye shall shine as the lights of heaven, ye shall shine and ye shall be seen, and the portals of heaven shall be opened to you.” This idea is also found in the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs wherein God is said to fight Satan, Beliar, and release the spirits of the holy ones in Satan’s captivity so that they were to be raised to reside in heaven with the Lord at the end time:
And the captivity shall He [the Lord] take from Beliar, even the souls of the saints, . . . and the saints shall rest in Eden, and the righteous shall rejoice in the new Jerusalem, which shall be unto the glory of God for ever and ever. And no longer shall Jerusalem endure desolation, nor Israel be led captive; for the Lord shall be in the midst of her, dwelling among men, even the Holy One of Israel reigning over them in humility and in poverty; and he who believeth on Him shall reign in truth in the heavens.3
A Preterist View of the Resurrection: The Resurrection may have begun at the Start of the Jewish War though the Departed did not enter Heaven until the Resurrection at the Seventh Trumpet.
1 Corinthians 15:52 says that the resurrection was to occur at the last trumpet. Many preterists believe that the last trumpet is the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15. A literal trumpet would have likely been blown by the Roman army at the start of the siege of Jerusalem. Perhaps the seventh trumpet of Revelation was blown at this time? As is implied in Revelation 15:8 and 1 Corinthians 15:52, the departed do not finally enter heaven until the sounding of the seventh trumpet. Though this is true, the resurrection may have actually began over forty-two months earlier at the start of the Jewish War. This forty-two month or three and a half year period is the time in which the woman of Revelation 12:14 is kept safe out of the serpent’s reach which I believe is the interval between the arrival of the Roman army at Jerusalem under Cestius on the Feast of Tabernacles in A.D. 66 to the start of the siege of Jerusalem in Nisan of A.D. 70—forty-two months later.4 (Though this 42 month or three and half year period could also correspond with the arrival of Vespasian in the early spring of A.D. 67 to the fall of Jerusalem in September of A.D. 70, three and a half years later.)
In Revelation 12:15, a river pours out of the serpent’s mouth to drown the woman representing the saints in a flood. At the start of the Jewish revolt, Emperor Nero, the beast with the wounded head of Revelation 13:3, was in Greece about to build a canal. This man-made river appears to be referred to in Revelation 12:15. Rivers and floods frequently represent foreign armies in the Bible (Daniel 7; 9:26; 11:10, 40; Psalm 65:7; 144:7, Isaiah 8:7-8; 17:12; 60:5; Jeremiah 46:7-8; 47:1-2; 51:55-56; Ezekiel 26:3; Joel 2:9; Nahum 1:8). Thus the river and resulting flood of Revelation 12:15 are both Biblical symbols of the army Nero dispatched when he heard about the Jewish revolt at the start of the construction of this canal.5 See In the Bible “Earth” Signifies the Specific Land Addressed While “Sea” Symbolizes Foreign Nations. Did the resurrection begin at this time?
Preterism and the Resurrection: A Multitude was Seen Rising out of the Earth at the Sound of a Trumpet in A.D. 66 in fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 15:52: “For the Trumpet will sound, [and] the Dead will be raised Imperishable. . . .”
It appears so. As construction of the canal began, Cassius Dio writes, “[W]hen the first workers touched the earth, blood spouted from it, groans and bellowings were heard, and many phantoms appeared. Nero himself thereupon grasped a mattock and by throwing up some of the soil fairly compelled the rest to imitate him.”6 Recording this event, Suetonius indicates that as Nero broke the ground, the sound of a trumpet was heard.7 The fact that a trumpet was heard at the time in which the dead appear to have been raised literally fulfills 1 Corinthians 15:52: “For the trumpet will sound, [and] the dead will be raised imperishable. . . .”
I believe that the supernatural mass-sighting mentioned above was similar to Elisha’s servant’s vision of the army of angels that surrounded Elisha in 2 Kings 6:17. In 2 Kings 6:17 Elisha prays that his servant would be able to see all the angelic soldiers protecting them, and the servant is temporarily given the ability to see this. I believe this vision of the resurrection mentioned above is similar to Elisha’s servant’s temporary God-given ability to see otherworldly beings in the unseen realm. I believe that those who witnessed these phantoms coming out of the earth were also temporarily given the ability to see this otherwise invisible event in the same way that Elisha’s servant was temporarily given the ability to see the otherwise invisible angelic forces around him and his companion.
As already indicated, these resurrected beings, however, do not finally enter heaven until the seven plagues are completed. I believe that those who had been resurrected at the start of the Jewish War are taken to a safe place away from Satan’s reach for 1260 days. These 1260 days, forty-two months or three and a half years may correspond with the interval between the arrival of the Roman army outside of Jerusalem under Cestius during the month of Tishri in A.D. 66 until Passover of A.D. 70 when Titus began his attack on Jerusalem at the last trumpet in fulfillment of Revelation 12:14.
It is interesting to note that after the sealing of the 144,000 there appears to be an implicit resurrection mentioned immediately thereafter in Revelation 7 and 14 which strangely punctuates the final plague and/or the start of the seven plagues. As explained in this commentary, the seven plagues (i.e. the seven seals, the seven trumpets and the seven bowls) began in A.D. 66 at the start of the Jewish War around the time in which the phantoms mentioned above were reported by Cassius Dio. These seven plagues then traversed the course of the Jewish War before culminating in the fall of Jerusalem at the seventh plague. Could this ambiguous placement of the resurrection in Revelation hint or point to the possibility that some of the dead were raised at the start of the Jewish War but did not enter heaven until the seventh trumpet of A.D. 70? If this idea is true, then it not only compliments the historical evidence but also explains the strange and seemingly contradictory placement of the resurrection at both the start and end of the Jewish War in the Book of Revelation.
Preterism and the Resurrection: The Flight of the Christians to and the Return from Pella is an Earthy Mirror of the Resurrection.
Biblical predictions are often fulfilled both in heaven and on earth. I believe the resurrection of the dead, though a heavenly event, has an earthly counterpart in the flight of Israelite Christians to Pella before the start of the war with Rome. These Christian refugees like the resurrected saints were similarly kept safe from the beast for three and a half years. See Revelation 12: A Preterist Commentary and Did Josephus Record the Resurrection? and The Fact that the First Resurrection was in A.D. 70, When the Christian Religion was EXACTLY Forty Years Old, Fulfills Hebrews 3-4.
Realized Eschatology and the Resurrection: Floating up to the Sky immediately after Death is a commonly reported Near-Death Experience Confirming the Resurrection Interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.
As stated above, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 imply that the saints will be given their resurrection bodies immediately after death without being confined to Sheol first. Is there any evidence from near-death experiences (NDE’s) that life on earth continues after the resurrection and people resurrect immediately after death?
Yes. After a snowboarding accident, one survivor of clinical death described his near-death experience (NDE) very much like Paul’s description of the resurrection in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:
I recall in some of the most vivid detail that I was floating above the main ski lodge. It seemed like I was in a helicopter about 50-70 feet above the ground just hovering. There was either no noise or total silence. But I remember I could feel the warmth of the sun, but it wasn’t the sun it was much brighter and hurt to look directly at.8
Reports of floating up to heaven after clinical death are an exceedingly common NDE. Could this be the resurrection referred to by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17? The above NDE is one of many examples in which people describe floating up to meet a loving light in the sky after suffering clinical death. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Paul says that at the resurrection the departed will rise up to meet Christ in the sky. Is this light Jesus?
Often throughout the New Testament, Jesus identifies himself as the light of the world. Furthermore, in Acts 9 Paul is said to have encountered the resurrected Christ on his way to Damascus. Reporting this encounter, Luke writes, “As he [Paul] neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him (Acts 9:3).” This depiction of Christ as “a light from heaven” bears a striking resemblance to the light many people encounter during NDE’s. In light of the Biblical similarities, it is not surprising that many people who have had NDE’s identify the light as Jesus. For a detailed explanation of how Jesus’ resurrection body was further glorified after having ascended into heaven in Acts 1 such that it was later described in the Bible as beaming with brilliant radiance so as to resemble the Father and the angels of heaven see How the Resurrection Bodies of the Saints Perfectly Mirror Jesus’ Resurrection Body after His Ascension Into Heaven Fulfilling Philippians 3:20-21 and ALL Other Bible Verses on the Resurrection!!!.
Using evidence from Biblical chronology, Biblical testimony, NDE’s, and Roman history, the above Preterist commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 has shown how these verses seem to describe the resurrection of the dead. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 accurately foretell the fact that after the last trumpet, the saints are quickly raised to life after physical death seemingly without the need to appeal to a literal rapture in A.D. 70.
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Interested in THE PRETERIST VIEW OF ESCHATOLOGY, or are you a PRETERIST struggling with a prophecy or verse? It DID happen just like the Bible says! If you liked this essay, see PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY for a detailed explanation of the FULFILLMENT OF ALL MAJOR END TIME PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE. The more unbelievable the prophecy, the more amazing and miraculous the fulfillment!
Also see Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century. For an explanation of how the end of the age and its fulfillment during the Jewish War mirror Genesis 1-3; how the Bible teaches that the resurrection of the dead is a resurrection of heavenly bodies to heaven, not a resurrection of perfected earthly bodies; and how the resurrection is a mirror opposite of the fall see How the Jewish War and Resurrection to Heaven Mirror Genesis and the Fall; and How Preterism fixes the Age of the Earth Problem and unravels the Mysteries in Genesis.
- The belief in a first century rapture is not supported by Christian history. Not only is there no historical evidence of the sudden disappearance of the entire Christian church, there is historical evidence that Christians alive prior to A.D. 70 were still present on earth after the supposed date of the rapture. For example, the Christians that fled to Pella at the start of the Jewish War were recorded having returned to Israel after the Jewish War. Furthermore, Hegesippus [A.D. 170] says that Jesus’ biological brother Judas, a leader of the Christian church, lived until the reign of Trajan. It must also be noted that the Apostle John is said to have lived at least until Domitian’s reign according to Church tradition. If the rapture of all believing Christians occurred in A.D. 70, why were the Christians that fled to Pella and these pillars of the faith left behind?
- 4Q427 7 i-ii (IQH, frs. 7, 46, 55, 56, 4Q428 I5, 4Q43I I), cited in The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, trans. Geza Vermes, rev. ed. (London: Penguin Books, 2004), 304.
- The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs 7:5.
- The Jews of the first century had both a lunar and solar calendar. One of which had twelve months each with thirty days. Using this calendar, 1260 days are three years and six months. However, not all of the saints left Jerusalem. According to Revelation 11 at the start of Titus’ siege of Jerusalem, the two witnesses were killed. These witnesses are also represented by this woman. Also in Matthew 24:22, Jesus, speaking of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, says, “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” Though the majority of the saints had left the city, in this verse, Jesus implies that there would still be a saintly remnant left in Jerusalem.
- Cassius Dio Roman History 63.22.
- Ibid., 63.16.
- Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars 6.19.
- http://www.nderf.org/josh_w_nde.htm (6/3/2009).