Has anyone ever told you that you cannot be looking for and expecting the return of Jesus if you expect that the Tribulation or anything for that matter will occur first? Is that similar to one telling you that you cannot be expecting to or looking forward to retirement if you must first save a million dollars? The reality is what they are really telling you is that Jesus coming is now and always has been imminent at least since _____, (one must fill in the blank). So let us consider when Jesus coming becomes imminent.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our (blessed hope), the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Titus 2:11-14 ESV
What Paul is telling us here is that in this present age we are to look for something, what is that something?
1 Thessalonians 4:15-16 NASB
Looking for that blessed hope, and appearing of that glory of that mighty God, and of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Titus 2:13 GNV
Verse 13 is translated differently by different translators. But the word translated appearing (epiphaniea) in the original is in my opinion best translated in the Geneva Bible which is one of the older translations into the English. It comes closest to what we as believers are to be looking for as the verse tells us. The Greek word means glorious; to shine; to give light; to appear. It is what we often hear referred to as the glorious appearing. We are living in this age, but what we look and long for only comes to us in the age to come with His appearing.
In commenting on Titus 2:13, the Messianic Jewish scholar David H. Stern writes:
“[V.] 13 points to, literally, ‘the blessed hope,’ meaning the blessed fulfillment of our certain hope, which is the appearing at the End of Days of the Sh’khinah (manifest glory) of God, and (at the same time) the appearing of our Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah.
So Stern sees this blessed hope as the second coming, and the New Beginning.
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. (1 Thessalonians 4:16
According to pre-Trib theology we are to understand what is happening in this verse to be the exact same event as what is stated in the following verse. But we will see that It is not Listen:
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “ Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.”
Revelation 4:1 NASB
In Paul’s description of what will happen with the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians, the Lord comes down from heaven and all the dead are resurrected first and then the Rapture.
In Revelation 4:1 no one comes down from heaven, and only John is called up into heaven to see 24 elders which we are told is the church. This event is most probably an event just like Paul’s when he tells us that he had been called up into what he called the third heaven. He had a heaven experience, but that experience he did not share. Pre-Trib scholars want us to accept John as a type of the Church caught up in the Rapture, but without the conditions surrounding the Rapture. No Lord coming down, and no resurrection preceding.
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. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
The pre-Trib version is typed with John representing the Rapture, but with no resurrection. Is this to be the way we interpret the Scripture?
We are told in Titus 2:13 to look as believers for the glorious Appearing of our lord and savior. That appearing we know is not to occur until after the Great Tribulation. It is the beginning of a new age. So will we be kept from the hour that is coming to test every man? Yes we will be kept from that hour, for it is the hour of the outpouring of God’s Wrath on the Day of the Lord. So, will we be kept from the Tribulation? — No, Jesus glorious appearing follows the Tribulation, and His trampling of the winepress Of God’s wrath although it begins with His fighting for Israel during Armageddon (Isa 63:1-8); it will mainly take place following the Rapture during the Day of the Lord.
From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.
Revelation 19:15 NASB
For more on this read the post:
Messiah Stains His Garment Isaiah 63, (Sept 25, 2017)
The Rapture is not presented to us in scripture without evidence of its timing. The elements contained in that evidence are not found in Revelation 4:1. But what we are to look for is found in Titus 2:13. In the next post I will explore why Christ’s Coming is or was only imminent when ______. The blank will be filled in.