The Church’s Trojan Horse
From the Writings of Marvin J. Rosenthal
Published in Zion’s Fire Magazine in March/April, 1997
In this article, two words will be defined, and their relationship
to the timing of the Rapture will be examined. The two words
are “coming” and “end.” Both words are
crucial, and both are found in a question which the disciples
asked of the Lord. They were on the Mount of Olives. The mood
was more than tense. Major conflict between the Jewish leadership
and Jesus had reached a new high. As a consequence, Jesus
informed His disciples that He was leaving. His nation would
not see Him again until they were ready to say, “Blessed
is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Mt. 23:39).
The disciples were dismayed and stunned. “And as he sat
upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately,
saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall
be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”
The first word to be defined is the word “coming.” It
is the translation of the Greek word parousia, pronounced
word parousia (coming) occurs twenty-four times in the New
Testament. It is used in nine books: Matthew, 1 and 2 Corinthians,
Philippians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, James, 2 Peter, and 1
John; and by five different authors: Matthew, Paul, James,
Peter, and John. Additionally, Matthew attributes its use
to the disciples (Mt. 24:3) and to the Lord himself (Mt. 24:27,
other words are also employed in the New Testament to speak
of the return of Christ. The first is the Greek word erchomai,
which is normally translated “coming.” It is used,
in a prophetic context, by the Lord who taught: “Verily
I say unto you, There are some standing here, who shall not
taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming [erchomai]
in his kingdom” (Mt. 16:28). It is used by John the Baptist
this way: “He it is, who coming [erchomai] after me is
preferred before me” (Jn. 1:27). This Greek word for
coming is very much akin to our English word “coming.”
second word that enters into the discussion of Christ’s return
is the word apokalypsis. This Greek word is usually translated
“coming” or “revelation.” Its basic meaning
is “to disclose or bring to light.” In the Word
of God, there is a disclosure or bringing to light of the
Lord Jesus by human authors who wrote under the controlling
influence of the Holy Spirit. However, in connection with
His coming (apokalypsis), Jesus will reveal Himself, or bring
Himself to light. Every eye shall see Him. The apostle Paul
wrote to the Corinthians: “So that ye come behind in
no gift, waiting for the coming [apokalypsis, self-disclosure]
of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7). The last book
of the Bible is called Revelation [apokalypsis]. The name
of the book comes from the word “Revelation” which
appears in the first verse. “The Revelation [apokalypsis,
self-disclosure] of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1). The apokalypsis
or “self-revelation” in view is that associated
with His Second Coming.
third word to be considered is epiphaneia. This word is most
often translated “appearing.” Concerning Christ’s
epiphaneia (appearing), Lawrence Richards has written in his
Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: “As a religious
term, it indicates a visible manifestation of a hidden deity,
either in person or by some great act through which His presence
is revealed. Jesus will come in a starburst of power, burning
his image on the retinas of faithless, blinded humanity.”
Writing to young Timothy, Paul said, “I charge thee therefore
before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the
quick and the dead at his appearing [epiphaneia] and his kingdom”
(2 Tim. 4:1). And to Titus he wrote, “For the grace of
God that bringeth salvation hath appeared [epiphaneia] to
all men” (Ti. 2:11).
word parousia (coming) is much broader in significance than
these other Greek words employed in Second Coming texts. And
it is important that that significance be clearly understood.
Parousia (coming) is derived from two Greek words, para meaning
“with” and ousia meaning “being.” The
word parousia, combining the ideas of “with” and
“being,” originally conveyed the idea of “presence.”
Only later did it add to its meaning the idea of a visitation.
Parousia, then, denotes two things: “an arrival”
and a consequent “presence with.” The Greek scholar
W. E. Vine illustrated that fact by referring to a papyrus
letter in which a lady speaks of the necessity of her parousia
in a place in order to attend to matters relating to her property
(an “arrival” and continued “presence”
in order to accomplish certain matters).
two occasions, the apostle Paul uses the word parousia in
the sense of his personal presence. Quoting what others had
said about him, he wrote, “For his letters, say they,
are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence [parousia]
is weak, and his speech contemptible” (2 Cor. 10:10).
And again Paul wrote, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have
always obeyed, not as in my presence [parousia] only, but
now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with
fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). In this verse, his
presence [parousia] is contrasted to his absence.
same concept of a coming and continuing presence is used of
the Antichrist. Paul wrote of the Wicked One: “Whose
coming [parousia] is after the working of Satan with all power
and signs and lying wonders” (2 Th. 2:9). The coming
(parousia) of the Antichrist includes his continuing presence
to perform his satanic work of false signs and lying wonders.
Christ’s “coming” (parousia), the Church will be
raptured and His presence will be seen in the heavens (that
is, the manifestation of His glory - not His bodily form),
for the purpose of judging the wicked, culminating in His
physical, visible return to the earth at the end of Daniel’s
men today speak of Christ’s first coming, it is not restricted
to His birth alone. Rather, it includes the annunciation to
Mary, the incarnation, Jesus’ reasoning at the Temple at age
twelve, His growth before men and God, His public ministry,
His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. All of this
is spoken of as His first coming.
a similar way, His second coming will include the Rapture
of the Church, the Day of the Lord judgment, and His physical
return in glory to establish His millennial Kingdom. Summing
up the significance of the words used to describe Christ’s
return, the Expository Dictionary of Bible Words states, “The
second coming of Jesus is a rich and complex NT theme. Like
Jesus’ first coming, it does not take place as a single act
but stretches over a span of time as God’s many purposes are
worked out at time’s end.”
an examination of the verses in which the word parousia occurs,
the following observations can be made:
In the King James Version of the Bible, the word parousia
is translated “coming” twenty-two times, and two
times it is translated “presence” (2 Cor. 10:10;
Of the twenty-four times parousia is used in the New Testament,
eighteen of those times it is used prophetically. Seventeen
times it is used in connection with the coming of the Lord
Jesus and once of the coming of the Antichrist (2 Th. 2:9).
The Rapture of the Church is one of a number of matters directly
associated with His coming. Paul wrote these words to the
Thessalonians: “To the end he may stablish your hearts
unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the
coming [parousia] of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints”
(1 Th. 3:13). “Saints” in this verse is an unfortunate
and inappropriate translation. “Saints” in this
verse does not refer to believers. The Greek word hagios should
be translated “holy ones” and is a reference to
angelic beings. These angelic beings will accompany Christ
at His coming (parousia) (cf. Mt. 25:31; 2 Th. 1:7-8; Rev.
19:14). In no sense, then, can 1 Thessalonians 3:13 be used
to support the teaching that the Lord comes for the church
at the beginning of the seventieth week and then with the
Church at its end, as some contend.
The coming of Christ will initiate the Rapture and then be
immediately followed by the Day of the Lord judgment. To the
Corinthians Paul wrote, “But every man in his own order:
Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s
at his coming [parousia]” (1 Cor. 15:23). The chronology
following Christ’s coming is then presented by the apostle:
“Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up
the kingdom to God, even the Father, when he shall have put
down all rule and all authority and power” (1 Cor. 15:24).
The end to which Paul referred is the Day of the Lord judgment.
The Church will be raptured, and then the end of the age will
commence with the outpouring of God’s wrath upon an unrepentant
world that has spurned His grace.
the context of a discussion of His coming, the Lord taught,
“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming
[parousia] of the Son of man be” (Mt. 24:37). And then
the Lord described what the days of Noah were like: “For
as in the days that were before the flood they were eating
and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day
that Noe entered into the ark” (Mt. 24:38). That the
days before the flood were wicked is beyond debate (Gen. 6:5-7).
But that is not the Lord’s point. What the Lord was teaching
is that men will be going about their normal activities (eating,
drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage - the most basic
things of life) with no sense of impending judgment, with
no awareness that deity is about to visit humanity in judgment.
According to the Lord, they “knew not until the flood
came, and took them all away [they were slain]; so shall also
the coming [parousia] of the Son of man be” (Mt. 24:39).
As the flood began on the same day as Noah entered the ark,
so the Lord taught that the Rapture would occur on the same
day as the Day of the Lord begins (Lk. 17:26-27, 30).
Christ’s coming there will be those inside the ark, as a result
of faith in Christ, and those outside the ark, because they
have rejected Christ. The Lord illustrated that truth: “Then
shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken [in rapture],
and the other left [for judgment]. Two women shall be grinding
at the mill; the one shall be taken [in rapture], and the
other left [for judgment]” (Mt. 24:40-41). This coming
inside of the seventieth week has always been a text that
has troubled pretribulation rapturism.
coming (parousia) initiates two things: first, the rapture
of the righteous; and second, the end - the Day of the Lord
judgment of the wicked.
No one will know the day or the hour of Christ’s coming (parousia).
The Lord taught, “But of that day and hour knoweth no
man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only”
(Mt. 24:36). The emphasis is on knowing the day or hour of
Christ’s return. That specific detail is unknown.
In contrast to the unsaved for whom Christ’s coming will be
as a thief in the night, spiritually discerning believers
will know the approximate time of His coming (parousia). Hear
the words of the Savior: “Now learn a parable of the
fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth
leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when
ye shall see all these things, know that it [in context, ”it“
refers to His coming] is near, even at the doors” (Mt.
24:32-33). The Lord’s teaching is unmistakably clear. The
fig tree was a time indicator. When its branches became soft
and it put forth leaves, the Jewish people knew that summer
was near (getting close), but they did not know the exact
time. The fig tree was a sign of approximation. Likewise,
when the events described in Matthew 24:4-28 occur, the generation
then living will know that Christ’s coming (parousia) is near.
The Lord’s coming is not imminent - any moment. It is expectant
- it could happen in any generation. Like the fig tree, the
specific fulfillment of prophesied events will be a sign of
approximation. Men of faith will know the general period of
Christ’s coming (parousia), but they will not know the hour
or the day; therefore, the admonition to watchfulness (Mt.
24:42). This is the parallel to the teaching of both Paul
ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day [the Day
of the Lord] should overtake you as a thief” (1 Th. 5:4).
for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein
the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements
shall melt with fervent heat?” (2 Pet. 3:12).
There will be a sign to indicate Christ’s coming (parousia).
The disciples inquired, “What shall be the sign of thy
coming [parousia]?” (Mt. 24:3). That sign (singular,
not plural) will be the manifestation of the glory of God
in the heavens. Matthew wrote, “And then shall appear
the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the
tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man
coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory”
(Mt. 24:30). The natural light of the universe will be turned
off, and the supernatural light (God’s glory) will be turned
on. That glory will dispel the darkness associated with the
opening of the sixth seal (the sun shall be darkened, and
the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall
from heaven, Mt. 24:29; cf. Rev. 6:12-14).
In the Olivet Discourse, the coming (parousia) of Christ is
clearly placed after the middle of the seventieth week. That
becomes obvious in light of the fact that the coming occurs
after the setting up of the image of the Antichrist in the
middle of the seventieth week (Mt. 24:15-22; cf. Dan. 9:27)
and the attempt by false prophets to get Jews out of the caves
to which they have fled following the erection of the image
of the Antichrist (Mt. 24:23-26). The Lord described His coming
following those events this way: “For as the lightning
cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so
shall also the coming [parousia] of the Son of man be”
(Mt. 24:27). For the unsaved world, His coming will be sudden
and unexpected (like lightning) - exactly like the flood in
the days of Noah. They “knew not until the flood came”
these observations, some clear conclusions can be drawn.
the first place, the Lord’s coming (parousia) is a comprehensive
whole. There is only one Second Coming. It includes the Rapture
of the Church, the outpouring of God’s wrath during the Day
of the Lord, and Christ’s physical return in glory. The meaning
of the word “coming” (parousia) is consistent with
that fact. It means “a coming and continuing presence.”
Lord’s coming is consistently portrayed as a singular event.
The Bible is repetitively consistent on that fact: “And
what shall be the sign of thy coming?” (Mt. 24:3); “so
shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Mt. 24:27,
37, 39); “afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming”
(1 Cor. 15:23); “in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ
at his coming” (1 Th. 2:19); “at the coming of our
Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Th. 3:13); “we which are alive
and remain unto the coming of the Lord” (1 Th. 4:15);
“and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be
preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”
(1 Th. 5:23); “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming
of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Th. 2:1); “whom the
Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall
destroy with the brightness of his coming (2 Th. 2:8); ”Be
patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord”
(Jas. 5:7); “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh”
(Jas. 5:8); “when we made known unto you the power and
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:16); “Where
is the promise of his coming?” (2 Pet. 3:4); “Looking
for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God” (2
Pet. 3:12); “we may have confidence, and not be ashamed
before him at his coming” (1 Jn. 2:28).
each and every instance, the word coming (parousia) is either
modified by the personal pronoun “his” or “thy”
or, most frequently, with the definite article “the.”
And in every case, His return is in the singular; not comings
but coming. There is not even a hint - anywhere - of two separate
comings. The often-heard suggestion that Christ will come
first for His church and then return to the earth a second
time seven years later with His church is a system of theology
developed outside of the Scriptures and then superimposed
is clear evidence that there is a coming (parousia) of Christ
sometime after the middle of the seventieth week and following
the Great Tribulation. The Lord taught: “Immediately
after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened,
and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall
fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven:
and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they
shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with
power and great glory” (Mt. 24:29-30). For pretribulation
rapturism to stand, among other things, two points must be
demonstrated: first, that there are two second comings, for
irrefutably there is one following the Great Tribulation;
and, second, that one of them occurs before the seventieth
week begins. Not only does no such biblical evidence exist,
it clearly contradicts Scripture.
the Rapture is directly related to Christ’s coming (parousia,
1 Th. 3:13; 5:23; 2 Th. 2:1), and the demonstrable coming
(parousia) occurs after the middle of the seventieth week
and following the Great Tribulation (specifically before the
opening of the seventh seal, Mt. 24:27; Rev. 6:12-17), so,
too, the Rapture must occur beyond the middle of the seventieth
one can know the day or the hour of Christ’s coming (parousia).
That is clearly taught by the Lord himself (Mt. 24:36-37).
However, men are to know the general time period of Christ’s
coming. That is also taught by the Lord (Mt. 24:32-33). The
apostle Paul warned the Thessalonians that the Lord’s coming
(parousia) would be as “a thief in the night” (1
Th. 5:2). Then he explained the response of both the saved
and the unsaved to the Lord’s coming. Concerning the unsaved
he wrote, “For when they shall say, Peace and safety;
then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon
a woman with child, and they shall not escape” (1 Th.
5:3). The picture Paul portrayed is of an unsaved world caught
completely off guard and unprepared for Christ’s return. But
of the saved he wrote regarding Christ’s coming (parousia):
“But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day
should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of
light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night,
nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep, as do others;
but let us watch and be sober” (1 Th. 5:4-6; see also
2 Pet. 3:12).
amount of rationalizing can explain away the fact that if
the coming of the Lord is imminent and pretribulational, He
will, of an absolute necessity, return as “a thief in
the night” even for the believers. The Pauline admonition
to watchfulness for an event which has no prophesied events
to precede it would be the ultimate exercise in futility.
If, on the other hand, Christ’s coming and the Rapture occur
after the events of Matthew 24:4-28 (immediately prior to
the opening of the seventh seal), then the Lord’s words make
perfect sense. “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all
these things [the events portrayed in the first six seals],
know that it [His coming (parousia)] is near, even at the
doors” (Mt. 24:33; cf. Lk. 21:28). That day need not
overtake a believer like “a thief in the night”
precisely because events of the seventieth week will announce
its approach - not the very hour, but the general time period
- exactly as the Lord taught.
in the clearest possible way, if there is only one coming,
the doctrine of imminency is destroyed by the question posed
by the disciples. They inquired, “What shall be the sign
of thy coming [parousia]?” (Mt. 24:3). Signs are miracles
or wonders given to authenticate or substantiate important
divine truth (Isa. 7:14). In this case, the disciples asked
concerning the sign of His coming (parousia). Since the sign
must precede the coming, and the Rapture is related to the
coming, the Rapture cannot be signless. And imminency, which
is said to be the central pillar of pretribulation rapturism,
is once more discredited.
is a second important word to which attention is now drawn.
The disciples asked, “What shall be the sign of thy coming,
and of the end of the world?” (Mt. 24:3).
phrase “the end of the world” (as in the Authorized
Version) is particularly misleading. It is better translated
“the end of the age.” The Greek word aion is not
the world but a period or era during which events take place.
Commenting on this subject, W. E. Vine noted that the “end
of the age” does not denote a termination but the moving
of events toward an appointed climax. And there is still more
beyond that climax.
the disciples asked, “What shall be the sign of thy coming
[parousia], and of the end of the world [aion]?” (Mt.
24:3), they realized that Christ’s coming would end one era
and commence another (the millennial Kingdom). A biblical
synonym for the end or the end of the age is the phrase “the
harvest” (Mt. 13:30). This phrase occurs in the Lord’s
parable of the wheat and the tares.
parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven
is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field;
But, while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among
the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung
up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
So the servants of the householder came and said unto him,
Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence
then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done
this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go
and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather
up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both
grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest
I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares,
and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat
into my barn” (Mt. 13:24-30).
the disciples asked the Lord to interpret the parable, and
He did so:
answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed
is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are
the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children
of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil;
the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the
angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in
the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world” (Mt.
earthly story part of the parable was quite simple. The wheat
and the weeds were to grow together. Only at the harvest were
they to be separated. The wheat would go into the barn; the
weeds would be burned.
spiritual truth of the parable is equally clear. Righteous
and unrighteous men are to coexist in the world. Then at “the
harvest [which] is the end of the age” (Mt. 13:39), separation
will occur. The wicked will be cast into hell (Mt. 13:41-42),
and “the righteous [shall] shine forth as the sun in
the kingdom of their Father” (Mt. 13:43).
Lord taught, in the clearest possible way, that the final
harvest is the separation of the righteous and unrighteous,
and that the final harvest occurs at the end of the age. That
absolute identification is made: “The harvest is the
end of the world” (Mt. 13:39). Speaking of that final
harvest, John the Baptist, referring to Christ, said:
fan [a small shovel for tossing grain against the wind and
separating the wheat from the chaff] is in his hand, and he
will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into
the garner [the millennial Kingdom]; but he will burn up the
chaff with unquenchable fire [through the Day of the Lord
judgment]” (Mt. 3:12).
the Rapture to be pretribulational, “the end” (or
the harvest which occurs at Christ’s coming) must begin at
the beginning of the seventieth week. But the clear, irrefutable
fact is “the end of the world [age]” does not begin
at the beginning of the seventieth week. The evidence for
that fact is substantial and convincing.
the events of Matthew 24:4 and following are understood by
the overwhelming majority of dispensational, pretribulational
interpreters to be describing events within the seventieth
week. The Ryrie Study Bible states that view succinctly. Verses
4-14 list characteristics of the first half of Daniel’s seventieth
week, while verses 15-28 deal with the second half. In verse
6 (which Ryrie properly places within the seventieth week)
the Lord teaches, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors
of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these must come
to pass, but the end is not yet.” The final harvest,
the separation of the righteous and the unrighteous, had not
yet occurred within the seventieth week. Again in verse 13
the Lord taught, “But he that shall endure unto the end,
the same shall be saved.” Even further within the seventieth
week, there is still no final harvest - no separation of the
wheat and tares.
in direct response to the inquiry of the disciples concerning
“the end of the world,” the Lord taught this truth:
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in
all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall
the end come” (Mt. 24:14). The end had still not yet
occurred, although the context is well into the seventieth
week. But a new truth is added. The gospel will be preached
in all the world before the end will come.
a new problem arises for pretribulation rapturism; namely,
the Great Commission of the Church:
Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given
unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and
of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe
all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am
with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen”
Lord’s promise in the Great Commission included the fact that
He would be with them “unto the end of the world”
Matthew 24:14, four things are clear: (1) the Lord is speaking
to the disciples; (2) the gospel is to be preached to all
nations; (3) following the preaching of the gospel in all
the world, the end will come; and (4) the end is within the
seventieth week. By comparison, in the Great Commission: (1)
the Lord is speaking to the same disciples; (2) they are commanded
to preach the gospel throughout the world; (3) the Lord would
be with them unto the end of the age; and (4) if “the
end” in Matthew 24:14 is inside the seventieth week,
then “the end of the world” in Matthew 28:20 must
also be inside the seventieth week. The suggestion that the
“end” or “end of the world [age]” in these
passages does not refer to the same “end” ought
not to be taken seriously by those who honor God’s Word. Note
the following passages:
ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake, but he that
endureth to the end shall be saved [literally delivered by
the Rapture]” (Mt. 10:22).
enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end
of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore
the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it
be in the end of this world” (Mt. 13:39-40).
what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the
world?...And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see
that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to
pass, but the end [of the age] is not yet
But he that
shall endure unto the end [of the age], the same shall be
saved [again ”delivered“ by rapture]. And this gospel
of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness
unto all nations; and then shall the end [of the age] come”
(Mt. 24:3, 6, 13-14).
them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:
and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.
Amen” (Mt. 28:20).
cometh the end [of the age], when he shall have delivered
up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have
put down all rule and all authority and power” (1 Cor.
the Great Commission of the Church is to evangelize the world
up to the end of the age, it logically follows that the Church
must enter the seventieth week of the Book of Daniel in order
to fulfill its holy calling. Only then will she be raptured
before the Day of the Lord judgment, because the Church, the
bride of Christ, is not appointed unto the Bridegroom’s wrath,
which will fall only on an unrepentant world. The Church will
be raptured at the seventh seal, immediately following the
Great Tribulation and before the outpouring of God’s wrath.
an important text rarely discussed in prophetic debate, the
sequence of these events is clearly outlined. Paul wrote to
the Corinthians: “So that ye come behind in no gift,
waiting for the coming [parousia] of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Who shall also confirm [guarantee] you unto the end [of the
age], that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus
Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7-8). Three distinct truths are in
view: (1) the Corinthian believers are waiting for the Lord’s
coming (parousia); (2) He will keep them up to the end (the
final harvest when the righteous and unrighteous are separated
as wheat and chaff); (3) they will be found blameless and,
therefore, escape the Day of the Lord judgment to enter the
summation, the following salient facts have been presented:
The word “coming” (parousia) means “a coming
and consequent presence.”
Of the seventeen times the word “coming” is used
in connection with the return of Christ, it is used only in
the singular and always with the definite article or a personal
pronoun (i.e., “the coming,” “thy coming,”
or “his coming”).
Not once does the Bible speak of two comings - not even by
a hint or implication.
It can be demonstrated that Christ’s coming (parousia) occurs
after the middle of the seventieth week (Mt. 24:27).
In no “coming” text can it be demonstrated that
the coming occurs pre-seventieth week.
When the coming (parousia) occurs, it will have among its
major purposes the Rapture of the righteous and the Day of
the Lord judgment of the wicked (1 Cor. 15:20-24). Thus, it
is indefensible to argue that the Day of the Lord begins at
the middle of Daniel’s seventieth week or later and that the
Church is raptured at least three and one-half years earlier,
or before the seventieth week commences.
The phrase “end of the world” (Mt. 24:3) is more
accurately translated end of the age and is speaking of the
completion of this era in preparation for entrance into the
next (the Millennium). The Day of the Lord will be the transition
period from this age to the Kingdom Age.
The end is clearly identified as the final harvest. Jesus
taught, “The harvest is the end of the world” (Mt.
The final harvest is the separating of the wheat and the tares.
The wheat are the righteous, who are to be harvested into
God’s barn; the tares are the unrighteous, who are to be harvested
and burned (Mt. 13:40-43).
The end is unmistakably identified as occurring inside the
seventieth week (Mt. 24:3; cf. vv. 6, 13-14).
The Great Commission of the Church - the task of world evangelism
- is to continue unto the end. The Lord said, “I am with
you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Mt. 28:20).
the Church must continue unto the end, and the end is within
the seventieth week, a pretribulation Rapture is impossible.
On the other hand, prewrath Rapture of the Church at the seventh
seal conforms to the biblical data.
write not to criticize but to alert. I know that an article
that takes issue with pretribulation rapturism is, to say
the least, in certain circles very unpopular. I take no pleasure
in being attacked or shunned, particularly by those with whom
I agree in so many important areas of theology. But I must
be true to God’s Word, as I understand it, whatever the personal
is the father of lies. At the end of the last century, he
inserted a falsehood into the Bible-believing Church of America.
It entered deceptively, much like a “Trojan horse.”
It remains inside the camp, and is now so ingrained in the
mind-set of many believers that to even question its biblical
basis is to subject oneself to scorn and intimidation.
refer, of course, to the Trojan horse of pretribulation rapturism.
Pretribulationism, with its teaching that the Church will
be “out of here” before the Antichrist arises, has
proffered a false hope of exemption from the Great Tribulation
and the pressures exerted by Antichrist. It may sound good,
but like a placebo, it will do no good.
result of the Trojan horse of pretribulation rapturism has
been to anesthetize the Church in the twentieth century. She
has been robbed of a sense of urgency and spiritual preparedness
for conflict ahead. No one who understands the truth of the
blessed hope would suggest that encounter with the Antichrist
infringes on that hope.
of greatest consequence, is the fact that if the Church enters
the seventieth week of Daniel, having been taught that she
would not be present when the Antichrist arises, she will
be caught off guard and confused. If the Church was misled
on this important subject, she will question where else she
may have been misled. She will be vulnerable to a spiritual
only true remedy is to get the “Trojan horse” out
of the camp as quickly as possible. That task is easier said
than done. The giants of pride, blind allegiance, and large
ministries stand in the way: “pride” on the part
of many Bible teachers who have taught pretribulationism for
years and don’t want to acknowledge that, no matter how well
intended, they were wrong; “blind allegiance” by
some who pound the pulpit in defense of pretribulationism
but, if questioned, often can’t defend their position and
don’t even understand the issues involved; and “large
ministries” which have many supporters upon whom they
are dependent and who are pretribulational. If the ministry
publicly changed its view, much of the support would cease,
and the ministry would be adversely affected.
will take issue with what I have written and be offended.
But what I have written is true and needs desperately to be
Trojan horse is bleeding profusely. Ever-larger numbers of
believers are turning away from pretribulation rapturism.
And old, worn-out tourniquets being desperately reapplied
by a few of its adherents will not stop the flow.
it pleases the Lord, perhaps there is still time to push the
Trojan horse outside the camp before the Church enters the
seventieth week of Daniel to do battle with the Antichrist.
The Church’s Trojan Horse
From the Writings of Marvin J. Rosenthal
Published in Zion’s Fire Magazine in March/April, 1997