John the Baptist 27 AD "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:2) 27 AD "Who warned you to flee from the wrath about to come?" (Matthew 3:7) 27 AD "The axe is already laid at the root of the trees." (Matthew 3:10) 27 AD "His winnowing fork is in His hand." (Matthew 3:12) 27 AD "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17) 27 AD "The kingdom of God is at hand." (Mark 1:15) 27 AD “Who warned you to flee from the wrath about to come?” (Luke 3:7) 27 AD “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees. " (Luke 3:9) 27 AD "His winnowing fork is in His hand…." (Luke 3:17) Jesus the Christ 28 AD "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 10:7) 28 AD "You shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes." (Matthew 10:23) 28 AD "....the age about to come." (Matthew 12:32) 28 AD “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” (Luke 10:9) 28 AD “The kingdom of God has come near.” (Luke 10:11) 30 AD "The Son of Man is about to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds." (Matthew 16:27) 30 AD "There are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." (Matthew 16:28; cf. Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27) 30 AD "'When the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?' '....He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers, who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.' '....Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.' ....When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them." (Matthew 21:40-41,43,45) 30 AD "This generation will not pass away until all these things take place." (Matthew 24:34) 30 AD "From now on, you [Caiaphas, the chief priests, the scribes, the elders, the whole Sanhedrin] shall be seeing the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69) 30 AD "What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vine-growers, and will give the vineyard to others. ....They [the chief priests, scribes and elders] understood that He spoke the parable against them." (Mark 12:9,12) 30 AD "This generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Mark 13:30) 30 AD “What, therefore, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others." …The scribes and the chief priests …understood that He spoke this parable against them.” (Luke 20:15-16,19) 30 AD “These are days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:22) 30 AD "This generation will not pass away until all things take place.” (Luke 21:32) 30 AD "Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.' Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us,' and to the hills, 'Cover us.'” (Luke 23:28-30; Compare Revelation 6:14-17) 30 AD "I will come to you. …In that Day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.' …'Lord, what then has happened that You are about to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?'" (John 14:18,20,22) 30 AD "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?" (John 21:22) The Disciples 30 AD "We were hoping that He was the One who is about to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24:21) Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles 52 AD “…we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord… …We who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds… …You, brethren, are not in darkness, that the Day should overtake you like a thief.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15,17; 5:4) 52 AD “May your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23) 52 AD “It is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.” (2 Thessaloniams 1:6-7) 56 AD “The time has been shortened.” (1 Corinthians 7:29) 56 AD “The form of this world is passing away.” (1 Corinthians 7:31) 56 AD “Now these things …were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11) 56 AD “We shall not all fall sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52) 56 AD "Maranatha!" [The Lord comes!] (1 Corinthians 16:22) 56 AD “Godliness …holds promise for the present life and that which is about to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8) 56 AD “I charge you …that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Timothy 6:14) 56 AD “…storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for that which is about to come, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (1 Timothy 6:19) 57 AD “He has fixed a day in which He is about to judge the world in righteousness…” (Acts 17:31) 58 AD “Not for [Abraham's] sake only was it written, that [faith] was reckoned to him [as righteousness], but for our sake also, to whom it is about to be reckoned.” (Romans 4:23-24) 58 AD “If you are living according to the flesh, you are about to die.” (Romans 8:13) 58 AD “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18) 58 AD "It is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand." (Romans 13:11-12) 58 AD “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Romans 16:20) 60 AD “There is about to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.” (Acts 24:15) 60 AD “As he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment about to come…" (Acts 24:25) 61 AD "...not only in this age, but also in the one about to come.” (Ephesians 1:21) 61 AD “In the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self… …Avoid these men. For of these are those who enter into households and captivate weak women… …These also oppose the truth… …But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all…” (2 Timothy 3:1-2,5-6,8-9) 61 AD “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is about to judge the living and the dead…” (2 Timothy 4:1) 62 AD “The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5) 62 AD "The gospel …was proclaimed in all creation under heaven." (Colossians 1:23; Compare Matthew 24:14; Romans 10:18; 16:26; Colossians 1:5-6; 2 Timothy 4:17; Revelation 14:6-7; cf. I Clement 5,7) 62 AD “…things which are a shadow of what is about to come.” (Colossians 2:16-17) 63 AD “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son.” (Hebrews 1:1-2) 63 AD “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who are about to inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14) 63 AD “He did not subject to angels the world about to come.” (Hebrews 2:5) 63 AD “…and have tasted …the powers of the age about to come.” (Hebrews 6:5) 63 AD "For ground that drinks the rain which often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near a curse, and it's end is for burning.” (Hebrews 6:7-8) 63 AD “When He said, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.” (Hebrews 8:13) 63 AD “The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way of the [heavenly] Holy Places has not yet been revealed, while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.” (Hebrews 9:8-10; Compare Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 2:21-22; 3:17; 4:13) 63 AD “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things about to come…” (Hebrews 9:11) 63 AD “Now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin.” (Hebrews 9:26) 63 AD “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things about to come…” (Hebrews 10:1) 63 AD “…as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25) 63 AD “…the fury of a fire which is about to consume the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:27) 63 AD “For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay.” (Hebrews 10:37) 63 AD “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the one that is about to come.” (Hebrews 13:14) Peter the Apostle to the Circumcision 30 AD “This is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 'And it shall be in the last days…'” (Acts 2:16-17) 62 AD “…salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:5) 62 AD “He …has appeared in these last times for the sake of you.” (1 Peter 1:20) 62 AD “In the last days mockers will come. …For this they willingly are ignorant of…” (1 Peter 3:3,5) 62 AD “They shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (1 Peter 4:5) 62 AD “The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.” (1 Peter 4:7) 62 AD "For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God.” (1 Peter 4:17) 62 AD “…as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is about to be revealed.” (1 Peter 5:1) 62 AD “We have the prophetic word …which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the Day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19) 62 AD “Their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (2 Peter 2:3) 62 AD “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” (2 Peter 3:10-12) James 62 AD "Speak and so act, as those who are about to be judged by the law of liberty." (James 2:12) 62 AD “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. …It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!” (James 5:1,3) 62 AD “Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.” (James. 5:7) 62 AD “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (James. 5:8) Jude the brother of James 62 AD “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation. …About these also Enoch …prophesied, saying, 'Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly…'” (Jude 1:4,14-15) 62 AD “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, 'In the last time there shall be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.' These are the ones who cause divisions…” (Jude 1:17-19) John the Apostle whom Jesus loved 62 AD “The darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.” (1 John 2:8) 62 AD “The world is passing away, and its desires.” (1 John 2:17) 62 AD “It is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18) 62 AD “Even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18; Compare Matthew 24:23-34) 62 AD “This is that of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” (1 John 4:3; Compare 2 Thessaloniams 2:7) 63 AD “…to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place.” (Revelation 1:1) 63 AD “The time is near.” (Revelation 1:3) 63 AD “Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.” (Revelation 2:25) 63 AD “I also will keep you from the hour of testing which is about to come upon the whole world.” (Revelation 3:10) 63 AD “I am coming quickly.” (Revelation 3:11) 63 AD “And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is about to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.” (Revelation 12:5) 63 AD "And in her [the Great City Babylon] was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth." (Revelation 18:24; Compare Matthew 23:35-36; Luke 11:50-51) 63 AD “…to show to His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place.” (Revelation 22:6) 63 AD "Behold, I am coming quickly. " (Revelation 22:7) 63 AD "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near." (Revelation 22:10; Compare Daniel 8:26) 63 AD "Behold, I am coming quickly.” (Revelation 22:12) 63 AD "Yes, I am coming quickly." (Revelation 22:20)

70AD The Expectation and Logic of a 'Literal Catching Up' at AD 70

The Expectation and Logic of a ‘Literal Catching Up’ at AD 70
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By Walt Hibbard
Surrounding the discussion of what actually happened at the Parousia of Jesus Christ at the focal point of eschatological fulfillment, concerns the nature of this magnificent and long-awaited consummation of all that was written in Moses and the Prophets. There seem to be two main schools of thinking on this subject:
  1. The Christians living in that day remained on earth throughout this Coming or Presence, did not experience any tangible relief from their persecution at the hands of the Jews and Romans, and those who were not martyred or taken captive, were allowed to die a natural death from various causes, OR
  2. The Christians living in that day were literally removed from this earth, being caught away, or raptured by the Lord Jesus and taken to their newly-prepared home in Heaven.
The applicable Scripture passages for these two views are found, primarily, in John 14:3; I Cor. 15:50-56; II Cor. 5:1-4; I Thess. 4:14-17; II Thess. 1:3-7. The conclusions that both camps arrive at depend on whether a figurative or covenant interpretation is given to these verses or, on the other hand, whether a literal hermeneutic is applied. The big questions, therefore, are these: Which interpretation more closely fulfills the texts presented above? Further, which view seems to fit both the first century historical setting and the normal expectations of the Christians clinging hard to these promises?
Both of these questions have already been adequately answered by Edward E. Stevens in his book, Expectations Demand a First Century Rapture, and in Ian D. Harding’s book, Taken to Heaven in AD 70. So I will not attempt to repeat what these authors have already done so well. Rather, I want to take a different approach.
The balance of this brief article will occupy itself with supporting the literal view by showing that the literal fulfillment was the manner in which all the major New Testament soteriological and eschatological prophecies were consummated, beginning with the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
The Incarnation: The taking upon Himself of human flesh by God the Son, Jesus Christ, was obviously an historically observable event. We have the Babe in Bethlehem, resting in a literal stable, with nearby farm animals, and literal shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night. We have the frightened Herod seeking a way to destroy who he thought was a threat to his political reign, and bringing death and tragedy to his own countrymen in the process. Yes, the Incarnation of Jesus Christ was fulfilled literally.
The Baptism of Jesus: At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus submitted to the baptism of John the Baptist so that all righteousness might be fulfilled (re: Matt. 3:13-17). Jesus literally was baptized in water, saw the Spirit of God descending and alighting on Him, and heard the voice of the Father in Heaven expressing His words of pleasure. This was a literal water baptism, with many spiritual overtones and implications.
Gethsemane and Mock Trial: The sufferings of Jesus in the Garden were excruciating demonstrations of the enormous suffering as He was approaching His last days on earth. The trial before Pontius Pilate, with the Jewish chief priests and elders plotting His death, was as unjust a trial as history every witnessed. An innocent Man placed before His accusers, false witnesses brought in, even Pilate finding no fault in Him, nevertheless was pressured by the Jewish leaders to pronounce that dreadful sentence of death. These horrible events were real, literal, historically-verifiable happenings that drove the action to the next crucial and redemptively-necessary event in God’s amazing plan for the salvation of His people. Yes, this was literal suffering, both physical and spiritual.
The Crucifixion of Jesus: Then came the climax and focal point of His Incarnation; to die for the sins of His people, satisfy God’s justice in meeting the Law’s demands, and fulfilling all of the Old Covenant’s requirements for the putting away of sin by the sacrifice of Himself, which the sacrifice of the blood of bulls and lambs could never do. The intense suffering came about through the vehicle of the most extreme method of criminal execution ever devised by sinful human beings, crucifixion on a cross. This never-to-be-repeated saga was literal, fulfilling Old Covenant prophecy, but with many on-going redemptive effects and implications that would be central to the salvation interests over the entire past, then-present, and future generations of mankind, and would be forever efficacious. And it was literally accomplished before the very literal eyes of all to see. It was historically verifiable; it was an event that happened on this earth.
The Resurrection of Jesus: The third day God raised Him from the dead, for death could not hold Him. He had paid the penalty for the sins of God elect people, and justice under God’s Law had taken place. He was raised in the same body that He was crucified in, with the nail prints and wound in His side manifested for His disciples to see. It was a literal bodily resurrection of the Son of God. He was raised to life, never to die again, and He was seen by over 500 brethren at the same time; indeed, He had conquered death! And He became the firstfruits of all those who would follow in His train, for all whom the Father had given Him, to be the people of God forever!
The Ascension of Jesus: Forty days later, after giving ample proof of His victory over death, Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven as His disciples watched Him disappear into a cloud surrounding Him. He was the victorious Christ, ascending to the Throne of His Father in Heaven. The Beloved Disciple John recorded His words in John 14:2 “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” He ascended to present His efficacious sacrifice to His Father in an action of fulfilled accomplishment with respect to God’s Law, and to prepare a place for His chosen people to reside for all eternity. This was a literal Ascension of the visible Christ from this earth to the Heavenly realm.
The Parousia of Jesus: As the final pages of God’s prophetic disclosure began to unfold with the Roman armies battering at the gates of Jerusalem, the time of Jacob’s trouble bearing down upon the now-apostate city of Jerusalem, and with the Book of Revelation being disclosed before their eyes in stark reality, there was nothing remaining but calamity for what was once a great Jewish nation. God’s judgment had struck the generation of those who crucified God’s own Son sent to be the Messiah of Old Testament prophecy. It was a literal judgment of a literally God-defying people. But it was also a time of great expectancy for that small remnant of faithful believers in Jesus Christ, in Jerusalem and in the known Roman world of that day. These were God’s New Covenant people and those promises of relief from Jewish and Roman persecution that would soon be literally fulfilled. The Second Coming of Christ, the Resurrection of the Dead from out of Hades, the Judgment of the Sheep and the Goats, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb – all would take place literally and coinciding with the Roman armies march, immediately after the tribulation of those days. For then “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first. When we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (I Thess. 4:16-17). This was a literal “catching up” of all true believers on earth at that time. They were taken from this earth, just as Jesus had promised, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:3). They were literally given “rest” or “relief” from their persecutors (II Thess. 1:6-8), but note carefully that this promise was given only to those Christians who were living at the time; not to believers in forthcoming generations, who must historically live out their lives before joining that mighty thong of Christians in heaven with Jesus. And note that the promise our Lord gave to these first century believers was that they would be “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air – from off the face of this earth. They were gone!
Little wonder that the archives of post AD70 Christian literature is missing from the annals of early writers for perhaps 60 years or more after that magnanimous and historically-unique event. It was a literary vacuum caused by no seasoned Christian leaders in the church to write, but instead, newly converted, immature believers left to propagate the church leading into the centuries ahead. No wonder the church succumbed to rank doctrinal error, even displayed in the writings of the early Church Fathers. Surely, if the living believers of AD 70 had remained on the earth, not only would the I Thess. 4 prophecy not have been fulfilled, but these amazing early church errors would likely have never gotten a foothold in the church, occasioning spiritual declension for the next 1500 years of church history. There can be little doubt that the “catching up” to be with the Lord was literal, and not limited to a mere covenant or positional change, however true that may be from other aspects, occasioned by Christ’s Parousia.
Many preterists today are finding it difficult to believe that the AD 70 Rapture took place in a literal fashion. It is the purpose of this brief article to set forth the logic, or if you will, the inspired precedence of the Second Coming being a literal happening, even as all of the previous promises relating to salvation were also fulfilled literally. It should come as no great surprise that God has continually displayed His consummative events in such a manner that they would be logically and openly displayed, at least to the very same people to whom the promises were originally given. Nor was it necessary for our God to satisfy every possible speculation that might arise in the minds of unbelievers surrounding these catastrophic first century events. But from reading the promises from the lips of our Lord and His disciples that certain people or groups of people would actually witness Jesus’ Second Coming, we as Christians living today are required as believers in our Lord Jesus’ promises, by faith, to accept them as requiring a literal fulfillment. To do otherwise, would be to forsake the nature of fulfillment of the earlier major soteriological and eschatological events and say that the Second Coming, alone and for the first time, did not achieve a literal fulfillment that enabled the specific promises to find expression in a historically meaningful way. I, for one, do not wish to embark down that path!
THE END