There have been some in preterist circles who believe and teach that there was a physical rapture in 70 AD of those who survived Neros persecution. Others in preterist circles understand the “catching up” to be a spiritual or judicial event but also occuring in the 66-70 AD timeframe.
One of the foundations of the 70 AD rapture view is the perspective that Jesus promised to come again and recieve the disciples to himself in John 14:3, They say that this referred to 70 AD and the recieving or “catching up” of the saints to heaven as mentioned in 1 Thess 4:16,17.
A second foundation of this 68-70 AD rapture view depends on a chronological reading of Matt 24:29,30. I believe this perspective lacks an awareness of a sort of spoken hebrew parallelism in the discourse delivered by Jesus. Part 2 will interact with this second foundation to the 68/70 AD rapture theory.
Connecting 1Thess 4:16,17 to John 14:3
Here are the two passages that they connect.
**[[1Th 4:16,17]] KJV* vs 16. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: vs 17. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
It will be shown that John 14:3 isn’t talking about his return at 66-70 70 AD but about his return to his disciples 3 days after his death. The first verses of ch 14 are part of a conversation, continued from ch 13, with Peter and the other apostles except Judas who had just departed. The teachings on the topics continues through ch 17.
Chapt 13 provides the context.
*[[Joh 13:33-38/KJV]]* v. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; (John 7:34; 8:21) so now I say to you…………..v 36 Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. (John 21:19)
v 37 Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. v 38 Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.
Jesus says that he had told the Pharisees that they could not follow him to the father. (at all) This refers to John 7:34 and/or 8:21.
I believe its because their love for the law, religion and nation of moses would not permit them to recognize Jesus authority as God to establish a new covenant and new govornment (Is 9:6,7) with new words and a new law of faith (John 6:28,29), love and freedom.
After Peter asks as to where Jesus is going, Jesus then clarifies and says to Peter that he cannot follow him to the father “at this time” (be killed with him) but they would follow his way “afterwards”. (John.20:21)
Why couldn’t they follow him now?
It was not their time yet. They had not yet seen the testimony of his will towards the truth of the divinity of life even unto his (their) own death as their example and hope.
Then Peter, in typical fashion blurts out that he will follow Jesus to the point of laying down his life for Jesus.
Jesus responds by asking if he would really self sacrifice his life for Jesus. And then tells him that before the next morning he would deny him 3 times. It’s likely Peter had the idea of defending Jesus life to his death, but when those actions were corrected in the garden, confusion would have sprouted.
1. It is from this context of Jesus’ telling Peter of his denial in ch 13 that we have the continuation of that conversation with Peter (and the others) to begin chapt 14.
Speaking primarily to Peter, but also the other disciples he says;
*[[Joh 14:1-4/KJV]]* v 1 Let not your heart be troubled (Peter): ye believe (trust) in God, believe (trust) also in me. v 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. v 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. v 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
2. The fathers house” in vs 2 is the “household” of the GOOD administration, intervening love and new foundational truths of the Father now known through Jesus. Isaiah 2:3,4, and 56:5 are 2 of many such examples where the word “house” indicates the administration of the spiritual household, rules and freedom of the New Covt through Jesus.
It is the same noun, oikia, though feminine, as oikos which Jesus used in Matt 23:38 when telling the jews that their house would be left unto them desolate. This referred to the administraion, nation and temple of the mosaic covenant. Thus the “fathers house” would be the adminstration, nation and human temple of the new, everlasting covt.
It does not refer to a location in the clouds or in heaven. This idea that the Fathers house is in heaven is a carryover from futurist “second coming” theology and doctrine as this verse is often undersscribed in support of the “second coming” doctrine in statements of faith.
3. He tells them in vs 23 that he and the father would come and make their “abode” with them. The word abode is the same word as mansion. This further supports that the mansions (abode) are the disciples lives on earth and continuing in the hereafter.
*[[Joh 14:23]] KJV* Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
4. Additionally, John 14:3 has similar language as John 12:26 further supporting that mansions are Jesus servants minds and lives.
[[John 14:3]] v 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
[John 12:26;] If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I (Jesus) am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
Thus, he’s saying to Peter Don’t fear….In the household of my and the fathers administrations are many mansions…meaning many diverse believers… (Know ye not your body is the temple [Mansion] of the Holy Spirit)
To ad lib a little; “But don’t worry Peter, even though you’ll mess up and deny me 3 times, there is much room in the fathers loving administration.” I’m going to the righteous father and will recieve a favorable judgement for the kingdom and you because you believed that I am sent from the father and am the fathers image and authority. (John 6:28,29; Matt 16:18-21)
5. The use of the word “many” in vs 2, may have been borrowed from Dan 9:27 thereby further comforting Peter that he was one of the many with whom the covenant was continuing to be confirmed.
*[[Dan 9:27]] KJV* And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week:……….
6. I believe that after his death Jesus and the new way of grace through (the law of) faith (John 6:28,29) needed to be formally judged against the charge of blasphemy against God and sedition against the mosaic covenant. This is depicted in Dan 7:13,14. Remember when he told Mary Magdalene not to touch him for he had not yet ascended to the father? (See pt 11 below) Then he apparently ascended to the father as depicted in Dan 7:13,14 because later that evening he “recieved them unto himself” and welcomed them to handle him. I believe one of the differences was that he had now recieved the formality of the favorable judgement about the new laws and ways of the new, everlasting kingdom of life.
He had earlier told the Jews that the kingdom (of God) would be taken from them and given to those bearing its (his) fruit. And prior to entering Jerusalem for the final passover in Matt 23:38, he declares that their house; (meaning the ways, means, principles etc of the mosaic covenant) was being left unto them desolate. The ways, means, truths and statutes of the new (everlasting) covenant (John 6:28,29; Eph 2:8,9) of the loving Father had been declared to them for 3 1/2 years since the time of Jesus baptism, and would be verified and judged righteous, good and true by the throne of the ancient of days. (Dan 7:13,14)
The will of the continuation of his kingdom through his doctrine, teachings and truths within his believers began being effected that eveniing. John 20:17, 20-22; in conjunction with Luke 24:30,31, records that on the evening of the resurrection Jesus blew on them and said, “receive the spirit” at the time they would have normally ingested the bread and wine, thereby further associating his body of doctrines, truths and words (John 6:63) received within as the holy spirit…..or holy “intent” and will of the father.
7. In the message of John 14-17 jesus repeatedly states that He and the father would dwell within the beleivers and adhearants to his way and truths through his words and teachings. The letter of I john has a similar theme of the indwelling, saying such things as; “greater is he who is in you than he who is in (of) the world”, ETC. 2 John also…”for the truths sake that is in you.”
8. Perhaps most importantly we have Jesus himself directly stating what he means in John 14:3 with the words …..”so that where I am, there you may be also”….. just a few verses later in John 14:9-11 and then again in 17:20-23.
*[[Joh 14:10-11/KJV]]* v 10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. v 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.
*[[Joh 17:20-23/KJV]]* v 20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; v 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. v 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: v 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
The words “so that where I am, there you may be also” from John 14:3 then, refers to being in the Spirit, and Will and Glory of the father while on earth. The way to and doctrine of the father now being known and personified through his bodily visitation in Jesus. (Heb 1:1-4) It does not refer to a place in the clouds or in heaven.
9. Then in 14:12,13 and 16:23-24 Jesus states what will be the effects to the disciples (and also to us 17:20)
*[[Joh 14:12-13/KJV]]* v 12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. v 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
*[[Joh 16:23-24/KJV]]* v 23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. v 24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
See also Is 65:24.
10. The idea that john 14: vs 2,3 refers to the evening of the resurrection is further supported if not proven from the content in ch. 14 and 16. Here Jesus explains what he means by his words.
In chapt 14 he explains that one of the fruits of his return unto them from going to the father would be to enhance and secure their belief. It is implied that this belief would be to benefit them in this life.
*[[Joh 14:28-29/KJV]]* v 28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. v 29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
And in ch 16 we have a similar testimony.
*[[Joh 16:16-22/KJV]]* v 16 A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. v 17 Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? …………jESUS ANSWERED; v 20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy …… v 22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. (John 20:20; Luke 24:52)
Let’s look at vs 20.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
When did the Apostles first weep and lament after the words were spoken?
Was it from Pentacost until the Parousia??.. and then rejoice??
Didn’t the apostles weep and Lament from that evening until his resurrection 3 days after the cross and then rejoice? John 20:11
*[[Hos 6:2]] KJV* After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.
And let’s look at vs 22.
And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. See also Luke 6:21
When was the “now” they had sorrow from the time in which the words were spoken?
Wasn’t it from that time and from the time of the cross, until the resurrection? Matt:26:37; Luke 22:45; John 16:22
When did Jesus see them (the apostles) again after a period of sorrow?
Wasn’t it the morning, day and evening of the resurrection, 3 days later?
Thus, in John 16:16 “little while” #1 is from the time the words are spoken to his death on the cross, while “little while” # 2 is from the cross to the resurrection.
11. Following this line of questioning; when, after the words were spoken did he first go to the father? These following verses and discussion answer the question.
Note the distinction between his not wanting Mary to touch him in John 20:17 and welcoming his disciples to handle him on the evening of the resurrection in Luke 24:39.
*[[Joh 20:17/KJVLite]]* Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
*[[Luk 24:36,39]] KJV* 36. And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. ………… v 39. Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
WHY did he restrict Mary from touching him in the morning?
Wasn’t it because he had not yet ascended to the father for judgement?
What logically then had changed by the evening of the resurrection when he welcomed them to handle him?
He had to have ascended to heaven between morning and evening because he welcomed the apostles to touch him. He had to ascend to the MOST HIGH Father to have Himself, and the words, truths and laws of the NEW covenant judged favorable, true and righteous, and to recieve the kingdom for the apostles (and humanity -17:20) as depicted in Dan 7:13,14.
*[[Dan 7:13-14/KJV]]* v 13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. v 14. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Remember the 70’s song “He’s alive” ? If not; Google or search on youtube for it.
Calvin Miller so beautifully depicts the subject matter of John 14:3 in his well known allegoric trilogy of Jesus and the apostles lives; “The Singer, Song and Finale.” In the allegoric retelling, Jesus is characterized as a “Singer” or “Troubadour” and the gospel as the Star Song. During his ministry the Singer has healed a young girls crippled legs, with the Star song of love, allowing her to walk. Her character represents some of Jesus’ disciples and those healed by him. She lovingly follows him, even to His death at the hands of the “keepers of the old ways.” In ch 23 of THE SINGER, knowing that those who killed the Singer will also be seeking her life, she is found alone in a wooded area pondering the fate of her legs and her life after his death.
The words used to head the chapter are in a question as if posed to her from Jesus on the day of resurrection;
The voice comes from behind her. “What would you like to be when you grow up, little girl”? Stunned and at first in fear, she pauses; recognizes his voice, then answers; ….”ALIVE“….. as she runs to embrace Him.
So it would have been with the disciples. Fearing for their lives, they would have wished to continue to live in the sanity, freedom and truth which they had received from Jesus. Jesus went to judgement to prepare a favorable place for his beleivers and abiders that where HE is, (on earth and in humanity) there they/we (my witnesses and followers of truth, life and peace) may also be.
12. These collective points do not prove that 1 Thess 4:17 does not refer to a rapture. But it removes John 14:2,3 from being a cause and support for that interpretation.
13. I do believe that Jesus’ individual death, resurrection and verifying return from the dead had plural, public manifestations and revealing in 65-68AD through the killing and resurrection (ceasing of killing) of the disciples (plural) who abode in His body of love, truth and doctrine; the plural body of Christ. Is 54:7-17
But if a plural ascension was intended to accompany that resurrection from persecution; in keeping with the timing of his ascension, it would have been some 40 days after his coming/parousia/arrival in the clouds/armies of 66 AD or through the armies in 67 AD.
14. Perhaps most decidingly, a plural ascension or rapture would be contrary to the stated purpose of a continuation, growth and seeding of his nature, statutes, grace and truths within and by those tested and perfected disciples, in the generation after 70 70 AD and subsequent generations as declared or principled in several places such as John 17:15-26, Matt 5:5, Jer 31:32ff; Isaiah 54:7-17, 55:10-13; 59: 15-21; 61:3-11; 65:8-9,16; 66; 7-16; Ez 14:22,23; Deut 32:43 and many more
15. What the “catching up” was.
I think the ‘catching up” with those (who were) ‘in the clouds” was simultaneous with the flight to the decapolis. The change was judicial, spiritual/supernatural, and partly a change of outward perception by others because of the foretold supernatural and divine protection recieved by the remaining saints of Peace and Right to Life now publicly established by God. It may have coincided with or been triggered by Johns miraculous preservation through martydom and or the retreat of the Roman armies from Jerusalem in 66AD.
They were not caught up from the earth but judicially snatched out of the hand of death; being judged righteous together with those in the clouds who had preceeded them..
This judical change was foretold in Dan 7:18,21,22,26,27 and also Isaiah 54:7-17; Isaiah 66:7 and likely others.
[[Dan 7:18/KJV]]* But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
*[[Dan 7:21,22/KJV]]* v.21 I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; v22 Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
*[[Dan 7:26,27/KJV]]*26 But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. 27. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
This article below covers some of these several aspects. Deut 32: and Isaiah 59 among others also come into play.
16. What the word “air” means. Contrary to what some proponents of the ‘rapture view” staunchly proclaim and atrempt to defend, the word translated “air” in 1 Thess 5:17 refers to the air just outside a persons body or building. Our idea of breath or ‘fresh air’ might be good clarifying words. This is consistent in both the OT septuigent and NT usages. When speaking of the birds of the “air”, the greek word used in both the N.T. and the septuigent is the word ouranos and would be better translated as the birds of heaven.
Thus, meeting the Lord ‘in the air’ might have been intended to mean;
a. meeting in the “air” outside of, and contrast against the religious “body” of Moses and outside the area of judea/jerusalem;
b. to refer to their passing through the Roman armies at the time of his arrival on Mt of olives as the Ancient of days/God/Jesus as depicted in the prophecy of Dan 7:22,26,27.
The Roman armies were the means of his arm of justice and vengeance as prophecied in Deut 32:42; Isaiah 59:15-21, Dan 9:27 and others.
c. meeting the lord in the fresh air of the decapolis mountains, like the Israelites had assembled and “met” with God in the Mountains of Sinai. (Ex 19:4)
d. meeting the Ancient of days simply in the mental understanding (air) of recieving the judgement and kingdom in the prophecy of Dan 7:22,26,27 as they left Jerusalem/Judea and “blew” town.
17. Furthermore, if an ascent into heaven (ouranos) were intended by Paul, it seems that one of several other words such as analambanō or eklegomai would have been employed. Analambano is used to describe Elijahs being taken away to heaven. Analambano is also used to describe Christs ascension into the cloud. Eklegomai is the word used in the septuigent to describe Enochs being taken (chosen) by God. Harpazo is used in the septuigent most often for the hebrew word Gāzal and vice versa.. Gazal has more of a meaning, to rob or snatch away (harpazo) rather than receive up (analambano).
The 70 AD proponants also appeal to Matt 24 saying that the tribulation described in Matt 24 all refers to Neros persecution of the saints as mentioned in vs 9. Since the “gathering together” of the elect from the four winds occurs (from their understanding) after the tribulation is over as signified by the words “and then” in vs 30 and 31, then this gathering (rapture) is after Nero’s death and at least after the Romans have begun the seige if not after its desolation.
I view that both tribulations are represented in Matt 24. The tribulation know as the war against the saints from Dan 7:21,25; Is 54:7,8 was alluded to in vs Matt 24:9.
The tribulation of the nation in the seige was referred to in vs 21 (from Dan 12:1) Dan 12:1 says that this tribulation would be the greatest one to come upon the nation. Since the nation would end in 70/73 AD it was accurately stated, and applied to the nation, not primarily to the saints of the nation of Jesus who escaped.
I believe vs 21 might actually combine them but from which the believers flee and escape. Isaiah 11:11,12,16; 27:13. The words “for then” at the beginning of vs 21 connects the tribulation of judea/jerusalem as the reason for their flight in vs 20. Thus the ‘great tribulation’ of vs 21 is not exclusive to the christians but they are included in a tribulation vs 9-14 and again vs 22. The days of tribulation were shortened (Is 54:7) for sake of the elect, but not shortened for the nations sake. The nation went on to destruction, (Dan 9:27) at least from a physical, spiritual and covanental standpoint.
I read this chapter as segments of overlapping information, like Hebrew Paralellism. Each time the words “then” appears it usually means “at that time” (not afterwards as if the narrative is chronological). The word “Then” often starts a new sequence of overlapping information concerning the latter parts of the time period of @64-66-70 AD as spoken from 30 AD and all answering the disciples questions leading up to the end of the temple and mosaic covt age.
Likewise when the word ‘and’ is used it means “also” or additionally, and not ‘subsequently” as if the narrative is a chronology. When a subsequent or connected activity is intended the words ‘for then’ or ‘after’ are employed, such as vs 21 and 29.
Vs 4-8 is a general introduction, with vs 6-8 describing the event in the roman world.
Vs 9-14 talks of the saints persecution which I think ended with Johns supernatural survival of Martyrdom and/or Neros death in 68 AD.
Vs 15-22 talks of their instructed response to the AOD which was either the (first?) roman armies on mt olivet in 66AD and/or possibly the simultaneous placement of a bust in the temple.
Vs 23-29 reviews and adds to vs 11 up until the time of the coming of either the first encircling of Jerusalem in 66AD or of Titus later on.
Vs 29 and vs 36 comment on the change of atmosphere effected by the passing and changing of the mosaic covt heavens/earth (vs 35) (zech 14:6-8; Is 54:11-13)
Vs 30 and 40 each begin new overlapping sections of things to occur, with the word then, meaning ‘at that time’, and spoken from the perspective of 30 AD, looking forward to events in the time-frame of 66-70.AD.
In my opinion, the tribulation of vs 29 is not the end of Neros persecution of the saints but the end of the seige upon jerusalem. Like after babylon fell In Isaiah 13 their was confusion and chaos for a short time. It was a day neither dark nor light, but afterwards it was light. (Zech 14:6-8; Matt 34:35,36)
Since they overlap, there might be little reason to debate EXCEPT THAT the coming in clouds in vs 30 is not to be thought of as coming chronologically after the end of Roman seige of vs 29,36 but as part of another wave of overlapping information spoken to the disciples from the time perspective of 30 AD looking forward to the coming in clouds in @ 66 or in the armies of 67-69 AD.
Thus, IMO, the ‘gathering together in vs 30 would be the same time and same event as their flight from Jerusalem/judea in vs 16-20. Rather than a receiving up to heaven, the saints were ‘stolen away’ into the decapolis. This is confirmed by the prophecies of the trumpet and gathering from the four winds in Isaiah 11:11,12,16 and 27:13 as being prophecies of activity reminiscient of the flight from Egypt, not of an ascension. See Ex 19:4 also.
Again, the only real difference would be the understanding of what was the tribulation of vs 21 & 29.