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MATTHEW 24:30-31 / 1 THESSALONIANS 4:15-17




By: Michael J. Sullivan

Copyright 2008


In my first article on the Reformed “house divided” attempts at building a sound eschatology, we discussed the analogy of Scripture hermeneutic and the “this generation” and “about to be” glorification and redemption of Luke 21:28 and Romans 8:18-23. In part #2 of this series, I would now like to apply the analogy of Scripture hermeneutic with Jesus’ statement “Verily I say unto you, this generation…” trumpet gathering call of (Mt. 24:30-31, 34) with that of Paul’s “with a trumpet call of God…” “…we who are still alive and are left will be caught up” instruction of (1 Thess. 4:15-17).  

Keith Mathison arbitrarily takes every chapter concerning the return of Christ, the salvation for the church and vindication and judgment of their first century enemies as all referring to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D.70 except one chapter–1Thess.4.  A creedal and career sustaining interpretation maybe, but an exegetical one that seeks to honor God’s Word–by no means! Mathison gives us the following interpretive options in 1 and 2 Thessalonians:

“1. All of the chapters refer to the second coming of Christ. This is the most popular option, and is found in all dispensational works and amillennial works.4 However, as we shall see, it requires a strained interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2.

2. All of the chapters refer to the coming of Christ in judgment upon Jerusalem. This position is rarely held, but it is gaining popularity among a small group of full preterist.5 Its primary weakness is its interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 4.

3. All of the chapters except 2 Thessalonians 2 refer to the Second Coming. This appears to be the position of B.B. Warfield.6 Its primary weakness is that it requires Paul to change the meaning of the phrase “day of the Lord” between the writing of 1 Thessalonians 5 and the writing of 2 Thessalonians 2. That seems unlikely, in light of the existing Thessalonian confusion about this “day.”

4. All of the chapters except 1 Thessalonians 4 refer to the coming of Christ for judgment in A.D. 70. This is the position defended in the following pages.7 (Mathison, Postmillennialism, pp.224-225, emphasis added).

Let’s get a bird’s-eye view of where everyone stands in 1 and 2 Thessalonians:





Strimple & others


A.D. 70

A.D. 70



1Thess. 4

A.D. 70




1Thess. 5

A.D. 70

A.D. 70




A.D. 70

A.D. 70




A.D. 70

A.D. 70

A.D. 70


1) 1Thess.1-3 & Mathison:

Mathison is confused on 1Thess.1:10 because in one work he believes this coming took place in A.D.70 but when debating with us he decides he wants to place this text among other “indefinite” time references for the Second Coming. The text reads, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” The analogy of Scripture principal of hermeneutics the Westminster Confession of Faith exhorts Mathison to use begs the question, “why is this coming of the Lord “from heaven” not the identical coming of the Lord “from heaven” to render wrath and salvation to the same first century audience who were awaiting and expecting His return in 1Thess.4:15 or even Acts 3:19-23 for that matter”?!?

Mathison does take 1Thess. 2:14-16 as being fulfilled in A.D.70. Here he correctly identifies the Jewish persecutors of the first century church to be the object of Christ’s return and His “wrath” (WSTTB? p.202 n.64).

Since Mathison takes 3:13 as Christ’s return in A.D.70, let’s briefly analyze the wording of the passage, “so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” In seeking to refute dispensationalisms version of two second comings one “for” the saints and then one “with” the saints (as apparently being worse than his own version of a two second coming theory) Mathison writes,

“Dispensationalists argue that since the Bible talks about Christ’s coming “for” the saints and “with” the saints, that implies two comings. The rapture, it is argued, is Christ’s coming for His saints, and the Second Coming is Christ’s coming with His saints. It is said that the difference between His coming for and His coming with the saints dissolves if the rapture and the Second Coming are simultaneous. Therefore the two comings must be kept separate.

If we examine the Scripture closely, however, we will see that the two words for and with present no real problem. Christ comes with the saints who have already died and for the saints who are still alive. The two occur at the same time, as a close look at 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 reveals. Verse 14 tells us that “God will bring with Him [Christ] those who have fallen asleep”; and verse 17 teaches that Christ comes for those “who are alive and remain.”” (Dispensationalism, p.120, ibid).

Again, it is more than difficult to understand how Christ coming “with all His saints” in 3:13 is Christ coming in A.D.70 and then in the next chapter Christ coming with His saints is an allegedly 2000+ years removed coming wrenched from its previous A.D.70 context! According to Mathison’s logic, both texts should be referring to the resurrection because in both texts Christ comes “with” the saints He raised first.


2) The 1Thess.4-5 & Mt.24 Connections

Every commentator agrees that Paul is using Matthew 24 as the foundation for his teaching concerning the Lord’s return throughout the Thessalonian epistles. Unfortunately for Mr. Mathison, but providentially for us, it becomes the clearest in the one chapter Mathison doesn’t want to talk about when it comes to making parallels to the Olivet discourse—(1Thess.4:15)–“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord…” Virtually every commentator and cross reference system correctly parallels 1Thess.4:15-16 with Mt.24:30-31 and 1Cor.15:51-52. Mathison only wants to make 1 Thess. 4 and 1Cor. 15 parallels and avoids Mt.24 and 1Thess.4 parallels (WSTTB? pp.193-194). He makes creedally selective parallels between Mt.24 and 1Thess.5 and some in 2Thess.1-2 in demonstrating an A.D. 70 fulfillment but again, avoids making any parallels to 1Thess.4. Let’s take a look at some of these parallels and ask some pertinent exegetical questions that arise from Mathison’s arbitrary hermeneutics.

“The language used in 1 Thessalonians 5 is also used in passages describing the coming of Christ for judgment in A.D.70. We have already mentioned that the term “day of the Lord” (5:2) is used in 2Thessalonians 2 in a passage that refers to A.D. 70. Another interesting parallel is found in verse 3, where the coming of this destruction is compared to “birth pangs.” The same phrase is used in Matt. 24:8 to describe the judgments leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.” (Postmillennialism, p.226).

Mathison here has no problem paralleling similar “language” and “phrases” in Thessalonians 5 with that of the Olivet Discourse. But did you notice that Mathison dishonestly left out the comparison of Christ coming as a “thief” (1 Thess. 5:2) in paralleling it with the Olivet discourse? Why? It is Because Mathison incorrectly takes Christ coming as a thief in Mt.24:43 as the alleged end of time (second section of the OD) coming while taking Christ coming as a thief here in 1Thess.5:2 as an A.D. 70 coming. To bring attention to this would be to expose his artificial division and two second comings theory of the Olivet discourse so he avoids the comparison and hopes no one will notice it.

Another example of Mathison making selective parallels between Paul in Thessalonians and Jesus in Matthew 24 can be seen in his preterist interpretation of 2Thess.2:

“Some of these parallels are:

a. a coming of our Lord (2Thess.2:1; cf. Matt.24:27, 30),

b. a gathering together to Him (2Thess. 2:1; cf. Mattt.24:31),

c. apostasy (2thess. 2:3; cf. Matt. 24:5, 10-12),

d. the mystery of lawlessness (2Thess. 2:7; Matt. 24:12),

e. satanic signs and wonders (2Thess. 2:9-10; cf. Matt. 24:24),
f. a deluding influence on unbelievers (2Thess. 2:11; cf. Matt. 24:5, 24).” (Postmillenialism, p.230).

I appreciate Mathison’s first century preterist interpretation of the persecutions and coming of the Lord to vindicate his people in 2Thess. 2:3, but he never really addresses his preterist interpretation of chapter one with chapter two together. Nor does he compare some of these phrases with the rest of Pauline literature. Paul quotes Isa.2:10, 19, 21 in 2Thess.1:9-10 as Christ coming “in that Day” to judge the persecutors and enemies of the church (as described in chapter two) and would be glorified “in” His people. Based upon Mathison’s preterist interpretation here, we need to ask the rest of our opponents in WSTTB?, “Did the early church receive “relief” from the persecutions of their Jewish countrymen in 1Thess.2:14-16 at the “Day of the Lord” and in their lifetimes or not?” Note the text does not say they would get “relief” when they died or at a coming of the Lord some 2,000 + years removed from their contemporary persecutions! It is specifically at the coming of the Lord in which God would “trouble” them with the same kind of “trouble” they were giving the Thessalonian church. Did the church not receive “relief” from these persecutors when they left Jerusalem to Pella and did not God bring “trouble” upon their enemies between A.D.66-70? And an important question for Mathison and others to answer is, “how do these Christians receive “relief” and how was God “glorified in them”? This glorification is the resurrection event described for us in 1Thess.4. It is also described for us as God’s glory “about to be” revealed “in” them in Rms.8:18-23YLT. The analogy of Scripture teaches us that relief for the first century church and martyr vindication involves the time of the resurrection–in an imminent and “this generation” time period Mt.23-24 and Rev. 6:10-11; Rev. 20-22:12. According to Pauline theology and the rest of the New Testament, the time to receive God’s “glory” “in” or “within” the saints is the time for God to glorify His church at the Second Coming and resurrection event. Because these are not creedal and career building positions to take for Mr. Mathison, he is forced to abandon the analogy of Scripture principal of interpretation in approaching 1 Thessalonians 4.

Let’s allow another reformed theologian to make other obvious parallels between Paul’s eschatology in 1 Thess. 4-5 with Jesus’ in Matthew 24 that men like Mathison and DeMar are afraid to make. G.K. Beale correctly points out,

“…4:15-17 describe generally the same end-time scenario as 5:1-10. Specifically, Paul narrates the resurrection at the end of the age and then recapitulates in chapter 5 by speaking about the timing of this event and about the judgment on unbelievers, which will happen at the same time. That both 4:15-18 and 5:1-11 explain the same events is discernible from observing that both passages actually form one continuous depiction of the same narrative in Matthew 24, as apparent from the chart…”

1 Thessalonians


Christ returns 4:16 24:30
From heaven 4:16 24:30
Accompanied by angels 4:16 24:31
With a trumpet of God 4:16 24:31
Believers gathered to Christ 4:17 24:31, 40-41
In clouds 4:17 24:30
Time unknown 5:1-2 24:36
Coming like a thief 5:2 24:43
Unbelievers unaware of impending judgment 5:3 24:8
Judgment comes as pain upon an expectant mother 5:3 24:8
Believers not deceived 5:4-5 24:43
Believers to be watchful 5:6 24:37-39
Warning against drunkenness 5:7 24:49

Comparison of 1 Thessalonians 4—5 with Matthew 24

“Other significant parallels include: the use of the word parousia for Christ’s coming, reference to Christ’s advent as “that day” (Mt.24:36) or “the day of the Lord” (1Thess.5:2); and a description of someone coming to “meet” another (eis apantesin autou, virgins coming out to “meet” the bridegroom in Mt 25:6; eis apantesin tou kyriou, believers “meeting” the Lord in 1Thess 4:17; see further Waterman 1975).[1]

Beale further tightens the connection of 1Thess.4-5 together by demonstrating that chapter 5 is also continuing the theme of the resurrection:

“Within the larger context, 5:9-10 (appointed to receive salvation…so that…we mayh live) provides the basis for being self-controlled 5:8, the main point thus far in 5:8-10. Being self controlled because of the prospect of salvation and resurrection culminates in the goal of 5:1-10 to which Paul has been aiming at throughout: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. The nearest thought sparking this final exhortation to encourage is the just mentioned consummated resurrection existence of God’s people who will join fellowship with the resurrected Christ 5:10. That the phrase we may live in 5:10 alludes to the resurrection of God’s people is borne out by observing the parallels between 5:10-11 and 4:13-18, which show that Paul has returned to the earlier theme of resurrection as the basis for encouragement:

4:13-18 5:10-11

(1) “Jesus died and rose” (4:14)

(1) “he died for us” (5:10)

(2) “the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive…will be caught up together with [hama syn] them. …And so [in this manner of resurrection existence] we will be with the Lord forever” (4:16-17)

(2) “Whether we are awake or asleep [a metaphor for living and deceased saints] we may live together with [hama syn] him” (5:10)

(3) “Therefore encourage each other [parakaleite allelous]” (4:18)

(3) “Therefore encourage one another [parakaleite allelous]” (5:11)[2]

These points made by both preterists and futurists effectively destroys Mathison’s thesis that Matthew 24 and 1Thess.4-5 teach two second comings: 1) Mt.24:27-31 / 1Thess.5 =’s an A.D.70 coming and 2) Mt.24:36ff. / 1Thess.4 =’s an end of time future coming. Once again we see how both sides of the reformed “house divided” have an element of truth to what they are saying and how our position comes along and fixes or bridges the divide. In demonstrating consistently the parallels between 1 & 2 Thessalonians with that of Matthew 24, Mathison needs to become a more “progressive preterist” or a pure futurist as some of his other amillennial co-authors!

An exegesis of 1Thessalonians 4:15-17

Having disposed of Mathison’s two comings theory in Matthew 24 and in Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, let me briefly give an exegesis of the “catching away” of which dispensationalists (and carnally minded rapture “preterists”) seek to defend a literal “rapture”–3 or 7 years before another coming of the Lord. Mathison has sought to defend another second coming or third advent view as well from this text, imagining it to be teaching the Lord’s return to usher in a literal resurrection at the end of time. All of these positions are false!

1) “We who are still alive and remain…

Of this text Mathison writes, “So it is best to understand that in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 and 17, Paul is simply using the pronoun “we” in a general way to mean “we Christians.” As far as Paul knew, Christ could have returned in his lifetime, but there was nothing that demanded he do so.” (WSTTB? p.194). Paul “knew” Christ’s Second coming and the resurrection event “could” occur in his lifetime because this is what Jesus and Paul taught Mt.16:27-28; 24:30-31, 34; Rms.8:18-23YLT; Acts 17:31; 24:15YLT! Mathison has no problem seeing the “we,” “you,” and “our,” statements concerning the coming of the Lord everywhere else in 1 & 2 Thessalonians as applying to Christ coming in A.D.70, so there is no exegetical evidence that Paul has now switched to a 2,000+ years “generalization” of the third person personal pronouns!

2) “…shall be caught (Grk. Harpazo) up together with them…”

The NCV translates harpazo as “gathered up” thus giving a theological connection to the eschatological gathering of (Mt.13:39-43; Mt.24:30-31 & 2 Thess. 2:1). Other translations render it “snatched away” or “will be seized.” The Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament renders a good definition of harazo as, “of an ecstatic vision or experience catch up or away (2C 12.2).”[3]

Thus one
could be “caught up” with visions or “caught up” in having a joyful “experience” associated with Christ’s return that did not necessitate a physical removal from the planet! The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament gives the meaning to a word related to
harpazo–harpagmos, “The word then took on the sense of the more common ἅρπαγμα and came to mean b, “what is seized,” esp. plunder or booty. Like ἅρπαγμα, it then came to be used in such related expressions as εὔρημα, ἕρμαιον, εὐτύχημα, ἅρπαγμα, ἁρπαγμόν τι ἡγεῖσθαι, ποιεῖσθαι, τίθεσθαι. These mean c. “to take up an attitude to something as one does to what presents itself as a prey to be grasped, a chance discovery, or a gift of fate, i.e., appropriating and using it, treating it as something desired and won.” “The figurative element in the expression still remains, and a οἷον or ὥσπερ is often put before it.”[4] The Liddell and Scott Lexicon render harpazo as “3. seize, overpower, overmaster, 5. grasp with the senses, 6. captivate, ravish,”[5]

We use the word having a  figurative meaning  even today–“As I gazed upon her, I was so  captivated  by her beauty, and the thought of taking her out this Saturday night, that I missed altogether, what the professor had said.”  We understand harpazo to mean that the Christians were “captivated” “figuratively” inwardly with the joyful ecstatic experience of knowing through the outward sign of the destruction of old-covenant Jerusalem (the first adulterous wife) meant Christ had now come and consummated His marriage union with the church and thus glorified and cleansed her from sin.  
Christ coming for His Church is used of Him coming as a groom taking possession of his bride and ravishing her with His love or as a mighty King seizing and overpowering Satan in taking back His people/slaves from his enemies. In comparing other Pauline letters we know the enemies were Satan who would be crushed “shortly” (Rom. 16:20) and “the [spiritual] death” that came through Adam which was magnified through “the law” (1 Cor. 15:56). Christ was the valiant Last Adam/Warrior that had plundered the souls of men from the strong man. Adam originally had not guarded the garden against the serpent, and as a result became the slave and spoil of him! But now by the Last Adam, and through Christ’s return, the bride/spoil/slaves/captors would experience ecstatic joy in being received into the groom’s presence or delivered and set free from the bondage of her previous master (Rms. 7:1-6). As we saw in the gospels, Jesus said when the kingdom would come at His return, that it would be an experience to occur “within” an individual and not something that could be seen with the physical eyes—Luke 17:20-37; Mark 9:1. The realm of the “snatching away” was an “experience” and “attitude” “within” Christians. They “grasped” and were “captivated” and had “seen” and “perceived” in their hearts and minds what Christ had done for them physically and most importantly “in” them in purifying their conscience and taking away their sins. The inward realm of redemption or catching away is further evident from a study of the next two words “clouds” and “air.”

3) “…in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

In Revelation one of the descriptions of the Churches “rapture” or “resurrection” is described by the two witnesses (described as Moses–the law & Elijah–the prophets) being received up into a cloud Rev.11:12. This is the consummation and the Church being raised and caught up into the presence of God is the fulfillment and climax of everything taught in the Law and the Prophets. Those that did not heed her message, were assured of imminent destruction. The Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament gives the concept of the cloud as referring to a Theological “revelation,” “Mark 9:7a, b par. Matt 17:5a, b / Luke 9:34a, b, 35 contain the idea of the cloud of revelation, or the theophany motif, in the account of the transfiguration.[6]

In our study of the transfiguration event this is what we “saw/understood” the parousia being all about – the passing glory and fulfilling of the law/Moses and the prophets/Elijah. We looked at the realm of this transformation in 2Cor.3 & Rms.12 and it had to do with a spiritual transformation of the mind and heart from old covenant glory to new covenant glory. Unlike the Judaizers whom were “waterless clouds” (Jude 12) and could not give doctrine or revelation resulting in the salvation of the soul, the Christians were and remain a heavenly people full of living water ready to rain down the righteousness of Christ upon thirsty souls through the preaching of the gospel (Isa. 45:8/Jn. 7:38/Ezk. 47/Rev. 22:17).

But what of this meeting the Lord in the “air” (Greek eros)? This word is defined as, “space inhabited and controlled by powers (Eph 2:2; 1Th 4:17; Rev 16:17+).[7] Another reference works says of Ephesians 2 –

“This ruler appears as the aeon of this world, or, one might say, his atmosphere (air) allows the world to appear as Aeon, the god of eternity, whose false claim brings death to humankind (H. Schlier, Der Brief an der Epheser [1958] 102f.). From the perspective of the history of religion this represents a combination of the Empedoclean and Pythagorean worldview, according to which the air is full of souls which cannot yet rise to the ethereal world (E. Schweizer, The Letter to the Colossians [1982] 128–34), and Jewish conceptions, according to which, among other things, the air is the abode of demons (Billerbeck IV, 516).[8]

Prior to A.D. 70, demon’s “possessed” individuals within the realm of their minds and the spiritual realm of their being. This is consistent with the word harpazo as meaning “seizing” or “possessing” one inwardly. Satan used the old-covenant Mosaic law to blind the hearts and minds of people in the realm of the “air”—within their souls, hearts, and minds in producing an arrogant and zealous self righteousness which apart from Christ could only lead to utter despair (2 Cor. 3; Gal. 4:17-18; Rms.7). Christ “bound the strong man” and was raising and delivering Christians from the darkness and death of this spiritual kingdom realm into His Ephs.2:1-10. Christ snatched away His beloved and spoke peace and joy into the “air” of her heart, soul, and mind, when He said, “It is finished” Rev.16:17/Heb.9-10/1Cor.15! The powers of Satan, demons, the condemnation of the law, and the spiritual death Adam brought upon men, have all been conquered by Christ at His parousia in A.D.70. The early church did ecstatically experience the joys of this event while on earth, and as Mathison admits, our “numbers keep growing!”

“The Day of the Lord has ‘already come.’” (2 Thess. 2:2)

Before leaving 1 and 2 Thessalonians, I believe it is extremely important to examine Mathison’s preterist reasoning when it comes to some having taught and believed that “the Day of the Lord” had “already” occurred pre-A.D.70 and then compare his argumentation here with how he addresses the Hymenaeus and Philetus teaching that the resurrection had “already” taken place (2Tim.2:18). Note Mathison’s logic,

1. “As in the case of 1 Thessalonians 5, no commentator who approaches this text under the assumption that it refers to the events surrounding the Second Coming has ever been able to offer an even remotely plausible explanation for the belief of the Thessalonian Christians that the day of the Lord had already come. If we grant the assumptions of these commentators, then Paul has already told them in his first epistle that this event would involve the bodily resurrection of the dead and the “catching up” in the air of those who would still be alive to be with the Lord forever. Unless one concludes that the Thessalonians were profoundly oblivious to reality, there is no explanation for why they would have believed that this had already taken place.

2. Futurists interpreters have also failed to offer a plausible explanation of Paul’s argumentation in 2 Thessalonians 2. If the “coming” of Christ, our “gathering” to Him, and the day of the Lord in this chapter refer to the Second Advent, the Rapture, and the bodily resurrection of the dead, then it is necessary to explain Paul’s method of proving that these things had not yet occurred. Why would Paul have tried to convince a group of believers that the Rapture and the bodily resurrection of all believers had not yet occurred by arguing that the apostasy and revelation of the man of lawlessness must coming first? If this chapter is referring to the Second Advent, the Rapture, and the bodily resurrection of the dead, the proof that these things had not yet happened would have been far more simple and obvious. The entire argument of 2 Thessalonians 2 could have been reduced to the single question, “Are you still here? (Postmillennialism, p.229, ibid., emphasis added).

Paul tells us at the beginning of his letters to Timothy that the cause of this growing and increasing apostasy of the “perilous times” in which they were living, had to do with the Judaizers influence surrounding “fables,” “endless genealogies,” and “idle talk,” of which these men sought to be teachers of “the law” 1Tim.1:4-7. The issues contributing to the apostasy here revolved around the Judaizers and “the law” not Gnosticism! They were seeking to command Christians to legalistically adhere to their traditions about abstaining from marriage (similar to the Jewish sect among the Essenes) and eating certain foods that no doubt surrounded the Levitical dietary laws 1Tim.4:3. Unlike Paul and Timothy, who could rightly divide the Word of Truth, Hymenaeus and Philetus could not in teaching that the resurrection had “already” taken place (2Tim.2:18). Our Futurist critics simply assume what they need to prove when they slanderously apply these false teachers to us or our eschatological view (WSTTB? pp. 2n.3, 313-314). However, in a rare moment I would agree with what Mathison says of this text in relation to our view,

“It would have to be demonstrated that hyper-preterists are saying the same thing that Hymenaeus and Philetus said with the same meaning.” “…If Paul wrote 2 Timothy before A.D. 70, then the teaching of Hymanaeus and Philetus would have been wrong from either a futurist or a hyper-preterist perspective.” (WSTTB? p.194).

If Paul had been teaching a corpse resurrection and a literal catching away at the end of time per the beliefs of Mathison and his reformed co-author team, then Paul would simply have said, “How can you believe the resurrection has already taken place? Look around, we are all still standing here aren’t we? Have the elements of the planet earth been burned up yet?!?” In other words, why doesn’t Paul refute Hymenaeus and Philetus with Mathison’s same “single question, ‘Are you still here’?” that Mathison argues with in defense of Paul’s method of apologetics in addressing the Thessalonian error? Are these professing Christians and tempted Christians in 1 and 2 Timothy any less “oblivious to reality” for succumbing to this false teaching than the ones addressed in the Thessalonian epistles?

Since the Judaizers (Hymenaeus and Philetus) were always challenging Paul’s authority and seeking to deceive Christians to go back into the Mosaic law Paul makes a reference to Num. 16 as an apologetic against them. In essence Paul is killing two birds with one stone in appealing to this historical and theological situation in Num.16. The issue with the rebellion of Korah had to do with a doctrine of turning back to Egypt as the “land flowing with milk and honey” and not God’s Promised Land of Canaan Num.16:13! Their desire was to return back to the bondage of the Egyptians and not continue in the Exodus and inheritance/promise that God had performed for them thus far. They also did not want to continue under Moses leadership. As God had destroyed Korah and his want to be “leaders” along with those whom sought to go back into the Egyptian bondage, so too God was “…about to judge the living and the dead, and by His Appearing and His Kingship:” (2Tim. 4:1 WEY, YLT, DARBY). (cf. Don K. Preston, Like Father, Like Son, on Clouds of Glory, p. 285ff., JaDon Productions 2006).

Concluding thoughts of Mathison in 1 & 2 Thessalonians

Paul specifically tells us that he was getting his teaching of the Lord’s return in 1 Thess. 4 from Jesus’ teaching in the Olivet discourse. We have successfully exposed Mathison’s arbitrary eisegesis and creedal schizophrenic reasoning as to why Matthew 24 and 1 & 2 Thessalonians are not discussing two second comings.

  • We agree with Mr. Mathison’s reasoning that his futurist colleagues should answer the questions he has raised as to how the Thessalonians could have believed an end of earth “Day of the Lord” could have already happened pre-A.D. 70. Strimple is forced to shoot Mathison in the back while aiming at us and claim Mathison has used “Hyper-Preterist” reasoning along with us here in 2 Thess. 2:1-3 (p. 313). But why doesn’t Mathison use this hypothetical and argument from silence reasoning when it comes to the heresy of Hymenaeus and Philetus with the resurrection being “past already”? The Second Coming and catching away (the resurrection) were spiritual events that occurred by A.D. 70 and were not earth burning events to occur at the end of history. If they were, Paul’s apologetic would have been different per Mathison’s reasoning and ours. Our exegesis of 1 Thess. 4:15-17 has the support of lexicons, uses the analogy of Scripture accurately, and follows Paul’s reasoning and logic as to how it could have been possible for Christians both in the Thessalonian espistles and 1 and 2 Timothy to have understood that the Lord had returned and the resurrection had taken place before A.D. 70.
  • Once again, when we combine the “orthodox” views of both sides of the reformed “house divided” in using the analogy of Scripture principal of interpretation of Matthew 24:30-31 with 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, we arrive at the Biblical and “orthodox” (“straight”) preterist position.



[1] G.K. Beale, THE IVP NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY SERIES 1-2 Thessalonians, pp.136-137, IVP pub., 2003. It may be possible to translate the “bright light” of astrape as referring to the “sun” coming from the east and shining to the west in Mt.24:27 and not “lightning.” If so another parallel can be made of Mt.24:27 with the return of Christ being associated with the “Day” “daylight” and being “sons of the Day” in 1Thess.5:1-8.  

[2] Beale, ibid. p.155. emphasis added.  

[3] Friberg, Timothy ; Friberg, Barbara ; Miller, Neva F.: Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Books, 2000 (Baker’s Greek New Testament Library 4), S. 75, emphasis added.

Kittel, Gerhard (Hrsg.) ; Bromiley, Geoffrey William (Hrsg.) ; Friedrich, Gerhard (Hrsg.): Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. electronic ed. Grand Rapids, MI : Eerdmans, 1964-c1976, S. 1:473
[5] Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. Thanks to Dan Harden for the tip on Liddell & Scott.
[6]Balz, Horst Robert ; Schneider, Gerhard: Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Eerdmans, 1990-c1993, S. 2:464
[7]Swanson, James: Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Greek (New Testament). electronic ed. Oak Harbor : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, S. GGK113
Billerbeck (H. Strack and) P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum NT aus Talmud und Midrasch I-IV (1922-28)
[8]Balz, Horst Robert ; Schneider, Gerhard: Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Eerdmans, 1990-c1993, S. 1:34

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Mike Sullivan