CREEDAL VIEWS EXAMINED IN THE LIGHT OF PROPER PRINCIPLES OF INTERPRETATION, REASON AND FACTS. DIRECT STATEMENTS OF THE BIBLE. "AS A THIEF IN THE NIGHT." "THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS IN YOUR MIDST." "AS WERE THE DAYS OF NOAH." "AS THE LIGHTNING COMETH OUT OF THE EAST." "EVERY EYE SHALL SEE HIM." "IN LIKE MANNER AS YE HAVE SEEN HIM GO." ST. PAUL'S LOGICAL ARGUMENT. TWELVE PROOFS THAT JESUS IS NOW A SPIRIT BEING. "WITH A SHOUT." "IN FLAMING FIRE TAKING VENGEANCE."
ACCORDING to the views of the creeds, our Lord is to return visibly to the natural eyes of men, riding upon a literal cloud, blowing a literal trumpet, shining with a dazzling literal light and blasting the literal universe into atoms. Usually this view of the manner of His Return is presented to frighten people into repentance; but upon a close examination in the light of the Bible, reason and facts, it is found in many respects to contradict these. So far as a Scriptural basis for this view is concerned, it rests entirely upon erroneous principles of interpretation; for it is drawn from a literal interpretation of figurative passages, such as parables, symbols and dark sayings, which according to the rules of language must, of course, be interpreted figuratively. Not only does it rest upon a false method of interpretation, but upon logical analysis its absurdity becomes apparent. For example, in view of the roundness of the earth, how could the people at the antipodes of the place of His arrival see Him coming? Even if, as has been suggested, He should after His coming remain stationary at a certain place in the sky during 24 hours for the rotation of the earth on its axis to make Him visible around the earth eastward and westward, the rotundity of the earth would nevertheless make Him invisible beyond a few hundred miles northward and southward. Clouds forming within the earth's atmosphere, and the earth's rotundity, as well as its size, would make Him invisible at no great distance. A
literal trumpet, blowing loud enough to be heard all over the earth, would burst the ear drums of all within at least 12,000 miles of it. If the light from the glorified body of Christ should appear to the natural eyes of men, they would be instantly blinded, as was Saul on the way to Damascus; but if they should see that body itself, they would instantly drop dead, as nobody can see Him and live (Ex. 33:20; Heb. 1:3; 1 Tim. 6:16). And if the literal universe were meant in the passages that speak of the heavens and earth passing from His face (Rev. 20:11, etc.), it would have passed away long ago, yea, the instant of its creation, for He faces all things. Thus proper methods of interpreting the Bible, as well as reason and facts, contradict the idea that our Lord Jesus in His Return appears to the natural sight of mankind in a visible manner.
A candid, reverent and careful study of the Scriptures reveals the fact that our Lord's Return is to be invisible to men's natural sight, but visible to their mental sight, their eyes of understanding. We will now present nine additional lines of pertinent Biblical evidence proving this point.
DIRECT STATEMENTS OF THE BIBLE
Our second line of Biblical evidence is: The Bible directly teaches that Jesus will no more be seen by human beings. "Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more" (John 14:19). This statement of our Lord is clearly to the point. While the connection shows that the Lord's Church will see Him when changed with Him (1 John 3:2), John 14:19 clearly teaches that no others of mankind will. Of course Jesus here referred to Himself as being forever invisible to mankind in His glorified resurrection body. This is clearly shown to be the case by the language of St. Paul with reference to Him since He came to dwell with God in glory: "Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom [in His glorified condition] no man hath seen, nor can see" (1 Tim. 6:16). Very clearly do these passages show
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that our Lord since His glorification has been and forever will be invisible to men's natural sight. Hence at His Return, He is invisible to men's natural eyes.
"AS A THIEF IN THE NIGHT"
The same thought is implied in the Scriptures which teach that His Return would be thief-like in its manner (1 Thes. 5:1-6; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 16:15). When a thief comes to break into a house, does he carry a bright light and blow a trumpet, shouting to the people, "Ho, you people! Wake up! I am coming to rob your houses"? Of course, we know he does no such things. Neither, therefore, does our Lord when He returns as a thief in the night. The thief in the night comes silently, stealthily, hiding in the dark, walking noiselessly with padded shoes or in stocking feet, picking locks and opening doors or windows with quiet deftness, thus concealing his presence from his unsuspecting victims. Our Lord comes in a similar manner, unknown to the world. But as a thief's presence in the house that is being robbed, may by certain signs be made known to his accomplices who may be awaiting him in that particular house, so the Lord promised to make known, after His Return, to His faithful watching saints the fact of His Return by certain signs and proofs (Matt. 24:3, 30-33). Please notice how in 1 Thes. 5:1-6 the Apostle tells us that the world would not be aware of the Lord's Return, because of its thief like manner, but that His waking and watchful people would be aware of it. Of course, if the world would see His Return with their natural eyes, they would be aware of it. Hence their not being aware of it proves that they would not see Him in His Second Advent, which therefore must be invisible to the natural sight.
"THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS IN YOUR MIDST"
The invisibility of the heavenly phase (Jesus and the Church) of God's Millennial Kingdom, also implies that our Lord's Return would be invisible; because He is a part of that Kingdom, yea, its chief part, the King of kings and Lord of lords. We have already proven
that the Kingdom of God will in its glorified condition and heavenly phase consist of Jesus and His Faithful followers, and will be invisible to mankind. Jesus expressly says that the people will not be able to point out the Kingdom of God, Himself and His Faithful, because they will not be subject to people's sight, even as we read in Luke 17:20, 21: "The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation [men will not be able to see Christ and His Saints when They come to rule]; neither shall they say, Lo here [look, here is the Kingdom, Jesus and the Church] or lo there [is the Kingdom, Jesus and the Church]; for, behold, the Kingdom of God [which you will be unable to point out] is [shall be] in your midst [margin of R. V., hence must be invisible, if it cannot be shown to people's sight]." The Kingdom of God therefore being invisible, and Jesus being a part of that Kingdom, He must be invisible to human eyes when He returns to establish it.
"AS WERE THE DAYS OF NOAH"
In Matt. 24:37-39 Jesus gives a strong proof of the fact that mankind would not see Him in His Second Advent: "As were the days of Noah, so shall be the presence [margin] of the Son of Man. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage … and knew not until the flood came and took them all away; so shall be the presence [margin] of the Son of Man" [R. V.]. In this passage Jesus shows that the people in their Acts and in their ignorance of the impending trouble just before the flood and during His own Second Presence just before the Great Tribulation would be alike. As in the days of Noah before the flood, the people were engaged in the ordinary activities of social life, but because of unbelief in the preaching of a coming flood, were ignorant of its impendency, so during Christ's Second Presence just before the Great Tribulation would burst upon the world, the people would engage in the ordinary activities of social life, entirely ignorant of the coming tribulation because
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disbelieving the testimony respecting it and its cause, Christ's Second Presence. That among other things in these verses the time of Noah's presence before the flood is compared with the time of Christ's Second Presence before the Great Tribulation, is manifest from Luke 17:26: "And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man." Here the expression "in the days of the Son of Man," a certain period of His Second Advent, is used as the parallel of the expression "the presence of the Son of Man" in Matt. 24:37, which proves that the passage compares the periods to which it refers. See also Luke 17:28-30. How, we ask, can it be that Jesus could be present and yet the people in general be ignorant of this fact, as well as of the time of trouble coming? If they would be able to see Him, of course they would know of His presence and would expect the trouble to follow. The fact of their ignorance of His presence necessarily implies that He is hidden from their natural eyes, and so His Return must be invisible to their natural eyes.
"AS THE LIGHTNING COMETH OUT OF THE EAST"
A sixth consideration proves the same thing: Jesus declares that as the natural sun manifests its presence by the natural light which it gives out, so He would manifest His Second Presence by the symbolic light, Truth, that He would at that time give out. This is Jesus' statement of the case in Matt. 24:27 (see also Luke 17:24, where again the words in His day are paralleled with the expression presence in Matt. 24:27), though an unhappy translation of the Greek word astrape by lightning instead of bright shining (Luke 11:36) veils the thought of the passage: "For as the lightning [bright shining—the sun] cometh forth from the east and shineth even unto the west, so shall be the presence [margin] of the Son of Man" [R. V.]. It is not, as the translation suggests, a peculiarity of the lightning to come out of the east and flash even to the west, for it more frequently comes from other directions and usually flashes over only a part of the heavens
and that often in other directions than the west. But it is a peculiarity of the sunlight to come from the east and shine even to the west. These facts show that in this passage, as in Luke 11:36, the word astrape should be rendered bright shining; for manifestly in the latter passage the word lightning would be an improper translation; for we do not catch the lightning and put it on a candlestick! Understanding our Lord in Matt. 24:27 to refer to the bright shining of the sun, we can readily see the comparison that He makes: that as the sun manifests its presence gradually and that to some sooner than to others and finally before reaching the west, even to the latest sleepers; so our Lord manifests His presence by the light of Truth that He as the Sun of Righteousness emits (Mal. 4:2), first shining upon His watchful and early-awake Church (Is. 60:1, 2) and then later upon the whole world (Is. 60:3; John 1:9). Matt. 24:27 therefore implies that men will recognize our Lord's presence, not by natural sight, but by their eyes of understanding, recognizing Him as present by the light of Truth that He sheds upon them. Hence this passage implies that His Return is invisible to men's natural eyes.
"EVERY EYE SHALL SEE HIM"
The invisibility of our Lord to men's natural eyes, at His Return, is implied also by the passages which show us that all mankind, including Israel, will see the Lord in His Second Advent, when such passages are harmonized with those which teach that in His present condition no man hath seen nor can see Him (1 Tim. 6:16), and that after His glorification the world no more would see Him (John 14:19). Rev. 1:7, referring to our Lord's Second Advent, reads as follows: "Behold, He cometh with clouds [of trouble in the Great Tribulation] and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him." If we should interpret the "clouds" of this passage literally we would make the passage teach nonsense, as we showed above; and if we should interpret the expression "every eye" in this
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passage as applying to literal or natural eyes we would make it contradict 1 Tim. 6:16 and John 14:19. It goes without saying that reverence for God's Word should withhold us from interpreting Scriptures contradictorily of one another. How may we interpret this and similar passages and preserve the harmony of the Bible? We answer, evidently 1 Tim. 6:16 and John 14:19 are literal and refer to the literal sight; hence the eyes of Rev. 1:7 must be figurative and refer to our mental sight—our eyes of understanding. Evidently this verse, therefore, means that our Lord's Second Presence will be accompanied with clouds of trouble and that the eyes of understanding in all people including even the Jews will be opened to a proper knowledge of Him. In this sense of seeing, St. Paul says, "We [now] see Jesus" (Heb. 2:9). Certainly he does not mean that we see Him with our natural eyes, but rather with our eyes of understanding, our mental eyes.
Not only the reasonableness of the above interpretation, and the Scriptural usage in other passages, but also the character of the book of Revelation warrants it. The opening verse of that book shows that it is a book of symbols: "He sent and signified, sign-ified, it",—gave it in signs or symbols. Hence it would be natural to interpret the clouds, eye and seeing of Rev. 1:7 symbolically. The reference made in this passage to the Jews, who pierced Him, as seeing Him, clinches the matter; for Jesus told them on the Wednesday before His crucifixion, hence two days before the Jews last saw Him with their natural eyes, that they would no more see Him until at His Second Advent they would hail Him with the acclamation, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Matt. 23:39). This passage proves that the natural sight is not meant here, because they saw Him with their natural eyes two days after He uttered these words. Hence mental sight is here meant, and this shows how those who pierced Him would see Him during His Second Advent, i.e., not with their physical, but with their mental eyes. We
further know this because Jesus two days before, i.e., on the day of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem four days before His death, had pronounced mental blindness upon them for their sins (Luke 19:42, 44), and St. Paul assures us that such blindness must continue with them until the full number of the Gentile Elect shall be won (Rom. 11:7-10, 25-33). Then, at the Second Advent, it is gradually removed and they come to see that Jesus is their Divine Messiah and Deliverer. A passage very similar in sense and method of interpretation to Rev. 1:7 is Matt 26:64. These passages from the standpoint above presented, harmonize with the clear statements of 1 Tim. 6:16 and John 14:19, and so viewed, prove that our Lord's Return would be invisible to our physical eyes, though discernible by our mental eyes.
"IN LIKE MANNER AS YE HAVE SEEN HIM GO"
We desire to examine as an eighth proof of the invisibility of our Lord's Second Advent, one of the most misused passages of the Bible on the manner of our Lord's Return, Acts 1:11: "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." This passage is usually explained as though it read, "as ye have seen Him go into heaven, so shall ye see Him come again." Those who so interpret the passage explain it as though the point of comparison emphasized in the passage were His being seen going and His being seen coming again, whereas the passage says nothing whatever about His being seen coming again. Hence His being seen coming again cannot be a part of the point of comparison in this passage. Clearly the point of comparison in this passage is between the manner of His going and the manner of His coming again, and not between His being seen going and His being seen coming again: "This same Jesus … shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." Hence this passage treats of the manner of our Lord's Return. And from the manner in which He
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went we can learn certain things respecting the manner of His Return: (1) He went secretly so far as the world was concerned, none but His disciples knowing of it at the time; so He comes again secretly ("as a thief in the night") so far as the world is concerned, none but His Faithful knowing of it in its first stages; (2) He went away quietly and unostentatiously, without startling the world with a literal trumpet, riding on a literal cloud, shining with a dazzling natural light and blasting the universe into atoms; hence He returns quietly and unostentatiously, without startling the world with a literal trumpet, riding on a literal cloud, shining with a dazzling natural light and blasting the universe into atoms; (3) He went away blessing those whom He left; hence He returns, blessing first His waiting Church and later the world of mankind; and (4) as touching His Divine body He was invisible to the natural eyes of human beings in His going away, though manifest to His disciples as going by suitable accompanying works; hence on returning He is invisible to the natural eyes of mankind, though He is manifested as present by suitable accompanying works. After our tenth line of evidence has been presented, this fourth point will become clearer. We introduce it here, because it logically belongs here among the other points of comparison, though certain explanations given under that tenth line are needed to clarify it from certain objections based upon a misunderstanding of the nature of our Lord's glorified resurrection body. The passage under study proves that the manner of His coming again is like the manner of His going away, and, as such, disproves many crude errors on the manner of His Return, as well as proves its invisibility to the natural eye.
ST. PAUL'S LOGICAL ARGUMENT
St. Paul uses in 2 Thes. 2:1-9 an argument which from a proper understanding of the subject clearly and pointedly proves that Christ's Return had not yet set in; but this argument would be decidedly clumsy
and without directness, were His Return visible to the natural eyes of men. The Thessalonians had mistakenly inferred from St. Paul's first epistle to them, that the Lord's Second Advent had set in; therefore the Apostle wrote the second epistle to them, among other things, to correct this mistaken impression. If the view that our Lord's Return is to be visible to the natural eye, accompanied by His blowing a literal trumpet, riding on a literal cloud, shining with a dazzling natural light, and blasting the literal universe into atoms, were the one that St. Paul had taught them, a mind so logical and direct as that of this Apostle would have refuted the error of the Thessalonians that the Second Advent had set in, somewhat as follows: "My beloved brethren, I do grieve to think that ye have so soon forgotten my teachings that the Lord Jesus will in His Second Advent appear in a natural body, shining with a dazzling natural light, blowing a literal trumpet loud enough to be heard all over the earth, seated on a natural cloud and blasting the universe into atoms. If ye had not forgotten these things, ye would not believe that He hath now returned. To prove to you that He hath not yet returned, I make certain requests of you: I entreat you to show me His shining body and the cloud where He is seated. When did He blow a literal trumpet loud enough to be heard all the world over? Neither I nor any of my yoke-fellows in the Lord have heard such a trumpet blast. How can ye believe that the literal universe hath been dashed into atoms, inasmuch as ye are witnesses of its remaining as it was from the beginning? Should not ye at once see from the absence of these things that the Lord Jesus hath not yet returned? O forgetful Thessalonians, let no man deceive you by any means that the Day of the Lord hath come; for that day shall not come except therein our Lord show His shining body of flesh, ride upon a natural cloud, blow a literal trumpet and blast the universe into atoms. I entreat you to refresh your memory on these things, and thus escape from the delusion
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that the Lord hath returned." Undoubtedly such an argument would have been used by St. Paul, if it had fitted the facts of the case, and would have easily and unanswerably refuted the error of the Thessalonians. The fact that he did not use it is a very strong evidence that it was inapplicable, and that for the reason that St. Paul had never taught them to believe such things with reference to our Lord's return, nor did they themselves believe them. On the contrary St. Paul, who alone of all human beings saw the glory light that shone out of, and represented our Lord's glorified body, and who paid as the price for that sight his natural vision, consistently taught that no human being ever saw our Lord's glorified body or could see it and live (1 Tim. 6:16). Hence he could not have used the above-stated argument, because it was out of harmony with his view of the manner of our Lord's Return.
Having seen St. Paul did not use such an argument to recover the Thessalonians from their erroneous belief that the Lord's Return had set in, and that because it was inapplicable to the facts as expected, let us see what kind of an argument he did use to prove that the Lord's Second Presence, the day of the Lord and the gathering of the Church to Him, had not set in, as the Thessalonians erroneously believed it had, and how, on account of the invisibility of our Lord's body at His Return, the argument that he used was as direct and logical as any argument could be made on the point at issue. His appeal was not to their sense of sight, but to certain predicted but unfulfilled signs that must precede the Second Advent; for he told the Thessalonians (2 Thes. 2:3-9) that our Lord's Return could not set in until Antichrist, the Papacy, would arise in, out of, and through a falling away from the true faith and practice of Christianity, gain supreme power, accomplish its dread reign, and be revealed and consumed in its main teachings and powers. Thereafter Christ would come again and annihilate Antichrist. Since the falling away was at most only in its earliest
start when St. Paul wrote these words, many features of the falling away, as well as all of the taking away of heathen Rome as the hindering thing, Antichrist's birth, rise to power, withering reign, revelation and consuming, were future. Hence Christ's Second Advent not setting in until after all of these things would happen, it could not have set in before they began to come to pass.
Thus St. Paul's appeal to the unfulfilled prophetic signs which must precede Christ's Second Advent, both proved that our Lord was not present at that time, and was certainly a cogent, direct and clear proof of St. Paul's contention in view of the thought of our Lord's invisibility at His Return, while it would have been clumsy, very indirect and decidedly weak in contrast with the argument that our Lord would be visible to the natural eyes of all mankind at His Return, if His Return were to be in manner as the creeds of the Dark Ages teach. St. Paul's argument in its nature and use therefore implies that our Lord's Return would be invisible, even as he had taught the Thessalonians, while had he taught them a visible return of our Lord, the Thessalonians, not seeing Him and the supposed accompanying literalities, would never have fallen into the error that Christ's Second Advent had set in at that time. In other words, the error into which the Thessalonians fell and St. Paul's method of argumentation in refuting that error, clearly imply that he and they believed that our Lord would be invisible to human eyes at His Return; for otherwise how could they have believed Him to have come again without seeing Him?
JESUS NOW A SPIRIT BEING
We will now give the basic reason, our tenth line of Scriptural evidence, proving that our Lord's Return is invisible to men's natural sight, though visible to their mental eyes. This basic reason is that our Lord since His resurrection is no more a human, but is a spirit being, of necessity having, as such, a body that is invisible to our natural sight. Hence the manner of His
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Coming must be invisible. We will now proceed to the proof of this fact from the Bible, offering Bible passages and doctrines to establish this truth.
DIRECT BIBLE STATEMENTS
In the first place, God directly tells us that Jesus is now a spirit being. Among other places this is stated in 1 Cor. 15:45: "The first man, Adam [Gen. 2:7], was made a living soul [a human being with a human body]; the last [Jesus, the Second (v. 47)] Adam was made a quickening [life-giving] spirit." Hence as the Adam of the garden of Eden was made a human being, so the Adam of heaven [Jesus in His resurrection] was made a spirit being. In v. 46 St. Paul expressly tells us that the Adam of the garden of Eden was not a spirit, but a human being; and that the later Adam, our Lord, is a spirit being. St. Paul proves this by showing in v. 47 that the first Adam had a body made "of the earth," of material substances, while the Second Adam, our Lord, had a body "from heaven," of spiritual substances. In the Greek of v. 47 the expression translated "of the" in the phrase "of the earth" is the same as that translated "from" in the phrase "from heaven." In both cases the substances from which the bodies were formed are meant. These three verses (1 Cor. 15:45-47) by their direct statements and by their contrasts of the two Adams, as well as their bodies and the substances from which they were made, prove that our Lord was raised from the dead a spirit being with a spirit body, and not a human being with a human body. Further, our Lord Jesus is in 2 Cor. 3:17 again directly called a spirit: "Now the Lord is that spirit."
St. Paul in 2 Cor. 5:16 writes: "Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now [and] henceforth know we him [so] no more." He no more knew Christ as a human being, "according to the flesh," though he had once known Him as such, before our Lord's death. This verse therefore implies that Jesus was no more a human being when St. Paul used this language of Him, though He had previously been a
human being. The reason for the change was that when our Lord was resurrected He was raised from the dead a spirit being, and not a human being. 1 Pet. 3:18 is strongly to the point when it says of Jesus' death and resurrection, "being put to death in the flesh, but made alive [not "in the flesh," be it noted, but] in the spirit" (R. V.). Let the reader particularly note the contrast as given in this verse between that in which He was put to death and that in which He was made alive. According to current theology which teaches that our Lord was raised from the dead a human and not a spirit being, this verse should read, Being put to death in the flesh, and made alive in the flesh. But God, who cannot lie, declares the exact opposite, saying, "Being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit." The article "the" is lacking in the Greek before the words for flesh and spirit: "put to death in flesh, but made alive in spirit" is the literal rendering. Hence our Lord is now a spirit. The four passages just quoted and briefly explained demonstrate that our Lord since His resurrection is no more a human being, but is a spirit being, and that, according to other passages, of the Divine nature, the highest of all spirit natures. If He is a spirit being, He of necessity is invisible to our natural sight, and therefore His Second Coming must be invisible in its manner.
JESUS' JOINT-HEIRS TO BE SPIRIT BEINGS
Not only do the Scriptures directly teach that our Lord since His resurrection is no longer a human, but is a spirit being; but they also teach it by necessary inference in declaring that the saints in their resurrection receive spirit bodies, and that they thereby receive bodies like His body. Hence His body must be a spirit body. That the saints were promised spirit bodies we see from 1 Cor. 15:42, 44: "So also is the resurrection of the dead [The article the in both cases is emphatic in the Greek, meaning the special resurrection, the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4, 6)]. It is sown in corruption [material beings are corruptible]; it is
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raised in incorruption [spirit beings are incorruptible]. It is sown a-natural [material, earthly] body; it is raised a spiritual [immaterial, heavenly] body." This passage proves that the saints receive spirit bodies, and thus are spirit beings in the resurrection, as during their earthly lifetime they have had human bodies, and hence have been human beings.
The same thought, that of the saints being changed from human to spirit beings in the resurrection, is expressed in vs. 51-54: "We shall all be changed [in nature] in a moment, … for the trumpet shall sound and the [emphatic in the Greek] dead [the saints, who are the pre-eminent dead] shall be raised incorruptible [not in fleshly bodies, which would be corruptible, because made of material or earthly substances, but in spiritual bodies, which are incorruptible, because made of spiritual or heavenly substances] and we shall be changed. For this corruptible [person] must put on incorruption [by gaining a spiritual, heavenly body] and this mortal [person] must put on immortality [by gaining a spiritual body of the highest of all spiritual natures, the Divine]."
But the Scriptures clearly teach also that the bodies which the saints receive in the resurrection are just like Jesus' resurrection body. If this can be proven, it would follow that Jesus at His resurrection received a spirit body, and hence is no more a human, but a spirit being. Quite a number of Scriptures prove this. E.g., 1 John 3:2: "It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is"—not as He was; for if they were to become like him as He was while in the flesh (Heb. 5:7), it would already have appeared what they are like in their resurrection bodies.
Also, 1 Cor. 15:48, 49 conveys the same thought: "As is [was; the words is and are throughout this verse are or should be in italics, which means that they were supplied by the translators, without any corresponding words in the original Greek. That the
word "was" should have been supplied here is evident from the fact that Adam is here meant] the earthy [one, Adam], such are [will be] they also that are [will be] earthy [the world, apart from the saints in the resurrection]: and as is the heavenly [One, Jesus in His resurrection body], such are [will be; this promise is to the saints during the Gospel Age] they also that are [will be] heavenly [in their resurrection bodies]. And as we [the saints during the Gospel Age] have borne the image of the earthy [one, Adam, i.e., as surely as they have had bodies like Adam's, "of the earth earthy"], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly [One, Jesus, i.e., so surely do they in the resurrection receive bodies like Jesus' resurrection body]." The same thought is taught in Phil. 3:21. Thus these verses prove the thought that the saints in their spirit bodies, gained in the resurrection, have bodies like our Lord's resurrection body. But since the saints receive spirit bodies in the resurrection, Jesus must have a spirit body since His resurrection. Therefore His resurrection body must be invisible to men's natural eyes, and hence His body at His Return must be invisible to men's natural eyes.
JESUS' INHERITING KINGDOM PROVES HE IS SPIRIT
That Jesus since His resurrection is a spirit being and hence invisible at His Return is evident from a third line of thought: He has inherited the kingdom of heaven, which a human being cannot inherit, unless he gives up his humanity and becomes a spirit being. St. Paul assures us in 1 Cor. 15:50 that "flesh and blood [a human being as such—Heb. 2:14; Matt. 16:17; Gal. 1:16] cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption [material bodies are not made spiritual bodies]." Accordingly, our humanity will never be transubstantiated and thus be taken to heaven. To gain the heavenly resurrection one must be changed from human nature to a spiritual nature without his body being converted into that of another nature, as St. Paul clearly teaches (1 Cor. 15:50-54).
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This is also Jesus' teaching in His disclosure to Nicodemus (John 3:5-8): "Except a man be born of water [the Truth] and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God [the saints' Spirit-begettal through the Word introduced them into the embryo or militant phase of the kingdom of heaven, whereby they became New Creatures in Christ (1 Cor. 4:15; Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:3; 2 Cor. 5:17) and candidates for membership in the born or glorified phase of the kingdom of heaven (Jas. 2:5; 1 Pet. 1:3-6); their birth of the Spirit introduced them into the born or glorified phase of God's kingdom beyond the veil]. That which is born of the flesh [of a human being] is flesh [a human being]; and that which is born of the Spirit is [a] spirit [a spirit being, which one must become to enter the glorified phase of the kingdom of heaven; as Jesus says in v. 3]. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but [because it is invisible] canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth; so [invisible as the wind] is every one that is born of the Spirit." The surest proof that one is not yet born of the Spirit, though begotten of it, is the fact, suggested by this verse, that his coming and going now can be seen; but when he is born of the Spirit he can come and go like the wind, invisible to mankind. The Scriptures teach that to enter the glorified condition of the Kingdom, one must undergo a change of nature from the human to the spirit nature—a re-creation, which like any other birth begins with a begettal, proceeds through a quickening, a growth, a strengthening, a balancing and a perfecting, and is completed by a birth as a spirit being, as we have shown in our treatise on the Kingdom of God. Jesus shows in John 3:6 that by the birth of the Spirit we become spirits, and He assures us in v. 8 that as spirits we will be invisible. Jesus, of course, as the chief one in the kingdom of heaven has inherited it, has entered it, which implies that He
is no longer a human, but a spirit being (1 Cor. 15:50; John 3:6), which He became at His resurrection (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5; Heb. 1:3-5; Acts 13:33); and hence He is invisible and His Return must therefore be invisible to men's natural eyes.
JESUS HIGHER THAN THE ANGELS
A fourth consideration proves that our Lord is no longer a human being, but since His resurrection is a spirit being: the fact that He is now higher than the angels. While He was in the flesh He was lower than the angels, even as St. Paul declares, "We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels [which in v. 7 he says is an essential attribute of human nature] for the suffering of death" (Heb. 2:9). Thus as long as He was in the flesh, i.e., while He was a human being, which He no more is according to this passage, He was a little lower than the angels. But the Bible clearly teaches that since His resurrection He is higher than the angels, and as such is the exact image of the Father's Person—a Divine being (Heb. 1:3-5; Eph. 1:20-22; Phil. 2:9-11). Hence, as the exact image of the Father's Person, He is since His resurrection a spirit being; for God in His person is a spirit being (John 4:24). Jesus now being higher than the angels, yea, being even a Divine being, as a spirit He must now be invisible, and hence His Second Coming is invisible to the natural eyes of men.
JESUS BECAME HUMAN ONLY TO RANSOM US
A fifth point proves that Jesus is since His resurrection no longer a human, but a spirit being, and therefore proves Him to be invisible at His Return: the fact that He became human only in order that He might die as our ransom, as St. Paul teaches, "We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels [which vs. 6 and 7 teach means that He was made a human being (John 1:14)] for the suffering of death … that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man" (Heb. 2:9). Having by His death fulfilled the purpose for which He became a human
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being, He had therefore no more need of human nature for Himself than He had need of it while He was with the Father during the Ages before He became flesh. Hence there being no need of His having human nature for Himself after His death, we may be sure that He no longer has it; for He has in His person nothing that He does not need. This, therefore, implies that He is now a spirit being and as such must be invisible. Accordingly, His Return must be invisible to men's natural eyes.
JESUS NOT ETERNALLY DEGRADED IN NATURE
A sixth point proves the same thought: our Lord would be eternally degraded in nature had He taken back His humanity when He arose from the dead. That He was degraded in nature, though not in character, when He gave up His prehuman nature, in which He was, as the one next to the Father, higher than the angels, in exchange for the human nature, is evident from St. Paul's statement that when He became a human being He was "made a little lower than the angels" (Heb. 2:9; see also John 1:14; 2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 2:14, 16-18). If He had taken back His humanity in His resurrection, and would now and to all eternity retain it, He would thereby be everlastingly lower than the angels in nature and thereby be eternally degraded in nature. But such a degradation is untrue, because the Scriptures clearly teach that instead of His now being lower than the angels, He is highly exalted above them (Heb. 1:3-5; Eph. 1:20-22; Phil. 2:9-11; Rev. 5:11-13). Hence He did not take back His humanity in His resurrection. Accordingly, He must be a spirit being, and therefore invisible to human eyes at His Return.
JESUS DID NOT TAKE BACK THE RANSOM PRICE
A seventh consideration proves that our Lord is no longer human, that He did not take again the human, but a spirit nature at His resurrection: It is the Ransom doctrine, the basic doctrine of the Bible. The Scriptures teach that He gave up His humanity as
our Ransom price (Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:5, 6; John 6:51). Had He taken back His humanity, His flesh, when He arose from the dead, He would have taken back the Ransom price and thus vitiated His entire redemptive work, left us in irretrievable ruin and made the entire Plan of God a failure! Merely to state these inevitable results of taking back the Ransom price is to demonstrate the falsity of the doctrine that our Lord arose from the dead a human being and the truth of the doctrine that He arose from the dead a spirit being. Hence He is now and always will be invisible to mankind's natural eyes; and therefore His Return must be invisible to their natural sight.
PERFECTION OF GOD'S CHARACTER A PROOF
An eighth line of thought demonstrates that our Lord at His resurrection did not take again human, but a spirit nature: the perfection of God's character. We showed above under the sixth point that if our Lord had at His resurrection taken back His human nature He would forever be degraded in nature, whereas the Scriptures cited under the sixth point prove that instead of His being forever degraded in nature He has been exalted in nature above all angelic natures. Since God raised Him from the dead (Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33, 34; 17:31; Rom. 10:9; 1 Cor. 6:14; Heb. 13:20), if He had resurrected Him in human nature, He would thereby have degraded Him in nature forever, despite the fact that He had promised with an oath to exalt Him above all other natures, if He should continue faithful unto death, and despite the fact that Jesus had been faithful to the last degree (Phil. 2:5-8). Under such conditions to have resurrected our Lord to human nature, would have made God violate His oath to Jesus (Gen. 22:16, 17; Gal. 3:16; Heb. 6:17-20), since He promised with an oath to make Him heavenly, spiritual, "as the stars of heaven." God is neither a perjurer nor a liar (Heb. 6:17, 18); for to be such would violate the perfection of His character. Hence
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the perfection of His character forbade His resurrecting Jesus to human nature. On the contrary, the perfection of God's character in harmony with His promise and oath to Jesus, if faithful, which He was, is the best of guarantees that the resurrection of Jesus occurred as that of a spirit being, yea, even in the highest of all spiritual natures, the Divine nature (Eph. 1:20-22; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 1:3-5; 1 Tim. 6:15, 16). Hence Jesus is now a spirit, as such is and forever will remain invisible to men's physical sight, and therefore must be invisible in His Return.
Before introducing our ninth proof of Jesus' resurrection to a spirit nature, we desire to remark that under proofs seven and eight we showed that the doctrine of Christ's resurrection to human nature violates the ransom doctrine and the doctrine of the perfection of God's character. Any doctrine that does violence to the ransom or the character of God is thereby proven to be false. These two things among others are doctrinal touchstones. Whatever does not adhere to them is thereby proven to contain alloy. Hence the doctrine of Christ's resurrection to human nature, doing violence to the ransom doctrine and to the character of God, is false, is an invention of Satan through Antichrist.
JESUS A FULLY DEVELOPED NEW CREATURE
A ninth argument proves that Jesus' resurrection was not to human, but to a spirit nature: His having passed through the various stages of character development as a New Creature from the begettal to the birth of the Spirit. That His character as a New Creature, a spiritual character, reached perfection the Scriptures assure us (Heb. 2:10; 5:8, 9). Hence His affections were completely detached from earthly and attached to heavenly things (Col. 3:1-4). Accordingly, as a New Creature He had developed a character in which the characteristic of sacrificing the earthly for the heavenly was unbreakably crystallized. This implies that if He had been raised from the dead as a
human being, He would forthwith have proceeded to sacrifice His humanity again unto death; for all His aspirations were crystallized in heavenly-mindedness, and thus were unchangeably adverse to the earthly-mindedness of human nature. This crystallized condition of His New Creature character would shortly have put again His humanity completely to death if He had been resurrected a human being; and if resurrected a thousand times as a human being, it would as often put His humanity to death. In other words, such a process would of necessity have to set in, if one, crystallized in a New Creature character, were raised from the dead a human being. But the Bible teaches us that "Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him" (Rom. 6:9). Therefore He was not raised from the dead a human, but a spirit being; and if a spirit being, He is invisible, and therefore in His Second Advent He must be invisible.
JESUS' OFFICE AS SAVIOR
A tenth fact proves that Christ was resurrected, not a human, but a spirit being: His office as Savior of the Elect now and of the obedient of the world in the next Age. A human being would be unable to minister to the multitudinous needs of God's children scattered all over the earth, and to checkmate the attempts of Satan, the demons and fallen men against His Elect; for nothing short of a Divine Being could do this. Much less could a human being bind Satan and his fallen angels, destroy Satan's and establish God's Kingdom, awaken all the dead, restoring their personality and individual characteristics, and then through a mediatorial reign offer them effective help for their restoration to human perfection, and actually work it in all that will obey, not to speak of turning this earth into a Paradise. Nothing short of a Divine Being could do these things, which will constitute the chief features of His ministry to the world of mankind in the Millennial Age. Hence His possession of
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the capacities to fulfill His ministry to the Church now and to the world in the next Age proves that He was raised from the dead, not in human, but in a spirit nature. Therefore He is forever invisible to men's physical sight, and for this reason His Second Coming must be invisible to men's natural sight.
JESUS' OFFICE AS GOD'S VICEGERENT
An eleventh Biblical teaching proves the same thing: Jesus' office as God's Vicegerent. The Bible most clearly teaches that God does all things by Him (1 Cor. 8:6; Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23; Phil. 2:9-11; 3:21; Col. 1:15-19; Heb. 1:3-5; Rev. 5:11-13). This means, of course, that He is Jehovah's Vicegerent throughout the Universe. Self-evidently the duties of such an office cannot be performed by a human being. How, to mention but one item among millions, could a human being, a being lower than an angel, control the angels, the heavenly principalities, powers, thrones, dominions, cherubim and seraphim? Accordingly, we see from His being Jehovah's Vicegerent that He is no longer a human, but a spirit being, who as such must be invisible to men, and who accordingly must be invisible in His Second. Advent.
FACTS OF JESUS' APPEARANCES TO THE DISCIPLES
As a twelfth and final point in proof of His resurrection as a spirit being and not as a human being, we offer the facts of His various appearances with different bodies to His disciples after His resurrection. To understand His appearances to them in different bodies we must remember several things: (1) the nature of Christ's resurrection body, which we have already proven to be that of a spirit, not that of a human being, and which necessarily implies that it was invisible to the natural sight of His disciples; and (2) the purpose of His appearances, and that in different bodies, which was to prove to them first, that He was alive from the dead and that, second, none of the bodies that He caused to appear and disappear before them was His resurrection body, which being
spiritual was necessarily invisible to them (1 Tim. 6:16). Remembering then that Jesus had the two-fold purpose of proving to His disciples that He was alive from the dead and that He was changed in nature from a human to a spirit being, we are put into a position to understand clearly the entire account of His appearances in different bodies to the disciples.
The disciples, in harmony with God's Word, believed that the dead are dead and therefore can know and do nothing. Accordingly, all that Jesus had to do to prove to them that He was alive again was to do something and show that He had knowledge of various things. Thus His simple announcing of Himself as alive, and doing something when He appeared to them, were proofs sufficient to them that He was alive from the dead. Additionally, to convince them that He was changed from the human to a spirit nature, He appeared to them in a variety of bodies, from which they gradually drew the conclusion that none of the bodies that they saw was His real resurrection body, which they, gradually coming to learn was spiritual, recognized could not be seen with human eyes. Thus He convinced them quickly that He was alive, and gradually that He was no longer human, but Divine.
Our Lord made these appearances in the same general way that angels in the past had made their appearances to human beings, e.g., to Abraham, Sarah, Lot, Jacob, Gideon, Samson's parents, David, Zechariah and Mary, i.e., by creating or materializing human bodies, for the purpose; for the bodies in which the angels appeared to these persons were not their own bodies, but bodies created on the spot to make the necessary appearances, because these angels being spirits had spiritual and hence invisible bodies. The fallen angels in spiritistic séances with sinister motives materialize bodies in a similar manner now, pretending that they are our dead friends and relatives. Thus when Jesus appeared to the disciples He created the bodies that He showed them, and when He desired
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to disappear He simply dissolved these bodies. We know this to be true because He did not appear twice in the same body, at least in the first stages of the various appearances after His resurrection. Another consideration also proves this thought: the clothes in which He appeared. Where did Jesus get the clothes in which He appeared after His resurrection? We know that the soldiers took His own clothes at the crucifixion (Matt. 27:35), and that at His resurrection He left the grave clothes in the tomb (John 20:5). Evidently Jesus created the clothes that He wore at these various manifestations, appearing to Mary in the dress of a gardener, to the two on the way to Emmaus in the garments of a traveler, etc. If He created different clothes for the various appearances, it is of course plain that He did the same with the different bodies that He showed the disciples.
To Mary Magdalene He first appeared as a gardener, and was not recognized by her until He made some changes in His tones, and probably in the body in which He appeared (John 20:14-18). To the two on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-31) He appeared as a stranger and traveler, and according to Mark's testimony, in another form (Mark 16:12). Neither did they recognize Him while He talked with them for several hours, until in the breaking of the bread He probably made some change in His appearance that enabled them to recognize Him, previously their eyes being "holden," because previously He was "in another form."
To the ten Apostles in the upper room He appeared (despite closed and locked doors, which offered no impediment to the entrance of a spirit being; for as such He entered the room) in a form different from the one with which they were familiar; otherwise they would not have taken Him for a spirit (Luke 24:37). Had they been less excited they would not have taken the material body of flesh and bones, which they saw, to be a spirit, since "a spirit hath not
flesh and bones," as they saw the body to have which He showed them—a proof positive of the fact that the body that He showed them was not His resurrection body, but one that He had created for the manifestation after entering the room, since He there said "a spirit hath not flesh and bones," and St. Paul says that in His resurrection He became "a life giving spirit" (Luke 24:39; 1 Cor. 15:45); hence in His resurrection His body did not have flesh and bones, and, accordingly, the one He there showed them as having flesh and bones was one created then and there for the purpose of the manifestation and was not His resurrection body. Jesus did not add the word "blood" to the words "flesh and bones" in Luke 24:39, because, while by handling the body that He showed them they could "see"—know—that it had flesh and bones, their handling it would not enable them to "see" that it contained blood.
A week later Jesus similarly appeared to His Apostles, Thomas, who feared that a swindler was deceiving the other disciples, being present. Jesus gave Thomas the proof of His identity and resurrection that Thomas had requested (John 20:24-27). The fact that again on this occasion Jesus entered the closed room (v. 26) proves that He entered it as a spirit being, after which He created a body of flesh that stood the acid test that Thomas had specified as a proof of His identity.
Again, to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias Jesus appeared in a still different form, and was not recognized by His form at all, but by the miracle that He performed (John 21:4-11). How in harmony with the fact that He was then before them in a totally different form from any they had seen before, is the remark, "None of the disciples durst ask Him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord." This remark evidently implies (1) that the disciples did not recognize Him from His form; (2) that the miracle had largely but not fully convinced them that their beloved Master was again in their midst; (3) that in
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their hearts they felt that the miracle should have been considered by them as a strong enough evidence to their faith that it was He, for which reason they were ashamed to ask for a verbal statement of His identity, though they desired for full conviction such an assurance; and (4) that such a desire would not have been cherished by them had He appeared in His old familiar form. Moreover, the doubts in Galilee of some of the 500 disciples (others than the eleven Apostles, who had been convinced before leaving Jerusalem for Galilee) can be accounted for on no other ground than that to them He appeared in an unfamiliar form (Matt. 28:16, 17).
The facts that we have cited respecting Jesus' appearances to His disciples between His resurrection and ascension, all prove that Jesus arose from the dead, not a human, but a spirit being. They also prove that He created various bodies to prove to them that He was alive from the dead, was changed from human to a spirit nature, and had none of the bodies that He showed them as His glorious resurrection body.
JESUS' APPEARANCE TO SAUL OF TARSUS
Another post-resurrection appearance of our Lord, worthy of our attention here, is recorded in the Bible: His appearance to Saul of Tarsus on the way to Damascus. While St. Paul did not see our Lord's glorified body itself, which sight would have killed him (1 Tim. 6:16; Heb. 1:3; Ex. 33:20), yet he saw a representation of that body, for which reason he could say that he saw the Lord—the glory light that is inherent in and that shone out of that body; but so powerful was this light that before his eyes could penetrate through it to the body from which it shone, he was struck blind by its brightness (Acts 9:1-18). Here, as it were, the veil that hid the glory of Jesus' resurrection body was partly withdrawn, and we receive a faint idea of its glory as "the glory that excelleth," and also here see final proof of the fact that Jesus did not show His disciples His resurrection body before
His ascension, as well as of our Lord's wisdom in not showing even that much of "the glory that excelleth" to the disciples after He arose and before He ascended.
We conclude our brief study of the resurrection appearances of Jesus to the disciples, including St. Paul, with the remark that they completely demonstrate three things: (1) none of the bodies that Jesus showed the disciples between His resurrection and ascension was His resurrection body, but they were variously created in harmony with the needs of the occasions on which they were made; (2) Jesus did not arise from the dead in the body that was crucified on the cross, or in any other human body; and (3) Jesus arose from the dead in a spirit body more glorious than the brightness of the sun at midday, a body of the Divine nature according to passages quoted above. Hence we are not to expect the Lord to come in the flesh. He comes not as He was before His death, but "as He is" now since His resurrection, of which St. John, who saw several of His appearances after His resurrection and before His ascension, said over 60 years later, "It hath not yet appeared what we (the Elect Church) shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is," not as He was.
We have now presented the tenth, the basic proof for the invisibility of our Lord's Return: His being since His resurrection no longer a human, but a spirit being, and that of the highest order, the Divine nature. This basic proof we have just demonstrated from twelve standpoints to be Scriptural. To be saved from many delusions and to be prepared to act well our part in the Divine Plan of the Ages, which is now at a most important stage, it is especially just now of greatest necessity to see clearly the Lord's mind on the subject, as given above from the Bible; for in our day the Ransom sacrifice is the rock of offense and the manner of our Lord's Presence is the stone of stumbling; just as they were when Jesus was here in His First Advent.
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And "he that hath an ear, let him hear!"
Some may ask how we can harmonize with the teaching that the manner of our Lord's Return is invisible the passages (1 Thes. 4:16; 2 Thes. 1:7, 8) that speak of His descending from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel and with the trump of God, and of His being revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance?
"WITH A SHOUT"
We will answer by first showing the harmony of our Lord's invisible Return with 1 Thes. 4:16, which speaks of His descending with (literally in or during) a shout, the voice of the Archangel and the trump of God. First we would remark that the shout, the voice of the Archangel and the trump of God, with their attendant events, of this verse, mean the same things as the sound of the seventh trumpet and the great voices, with their attendant events, in Rev. 11:15-19. Dan. 12:1, 2 describes the same general events as 1 Thes. 4:16, 17 and Rev. 11:15-19; so also does 1 Cor. 15:52-57. They show us that these events are associated with the time and fact of Christ's Return, His taking charge of human affairs amid the anger of nations and an unparalleled trouble due to God's displeasure at sin, and His awakening and judging the dead. The trumpet of Rev. 11:15 is the seventh in a series of seven trumpets. All interpreters of Revelation, worthy of the name, recognize that the first six trumpets are not literal trumpets giving forth literal trumpet-blasts, but are figurative of certain messages with their attendant events from shortly after the time of Christ's First Presence on earth onward. If this is true, then the seventh trumpet must be symbolic; and we understand it to represent the messages and attendant events of Christ's Second Presence on earth, which will last a thousand years, and during which the events of 1 Thes. 4:16, 17; Rev. 11:15-19; Dan. 12:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:52-57 take place.
We understand the shout and the voice of the Archangel
to mean the same as the great voices of Rev. 11:15. The shout we understand to refer to certain human agitations, discussions, etc., at the Second Advent, and the voice of the Archangel, to certain proclamations, commands, teachings, etc., that Christ gives through the agencies of His own choosing at the time of His Return. We are now hearing this shout in the agitations and discussions on Sociology, Political Economy, Capital, Labor, Government, Civics, etc., in their relations to the rights of man as these are connected with the principles of justice between man and man. Everywhere such subjects from the standpoint of justice between man and man are being studied, debated and made issues between various classes of society; and the encouragement of one another to take part in such discussions, etc., and in their real or supposed logically resultant activities form no small part of this shout. The passage under discussion shows that Christ returns while such discussions, etc., are going on; but it does not say that He will be seen while descending from heaven.
The voice of the Archangel refers to the proclamations, commands and messages that Christ as Jehovah's Chief Messenger (Archangel means Chief Messenger) on returning causes to be given through such agencies as He chooses, and they imply His taking charge of Earth's affairs, which His proclamations, commands and messages indicate Him as doing at that time. These proclamations, commands and messages arouse world-movements for the overthrow of Satan's Empire through the Great Tribulation, of which Dan. 12:1; Rev. 11:15-18 treat, and for the establishment of God's Kingdom, also referred to in the same passages. This is also represented by His standing up in Dan. 12:1, by His arising to shake terribly the earth in Is. 2:19, 21, and by His voice, amid the anger of nations, melting the symbolic earth (society) in Ps. 46:6. As we will show later, we' are in the time of Christ's Return, in the time of this shout, this voice of the Archangel
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and the seventh trumpet. All these are now in worldwide activity, and as such indicate that we are living at the time of Christ's Return, but before He is yet revealed to all. However, it will be noticed that neither in 1 Thes. 4:16, 17, nor in any of the parallel passages that we have just cited in our explanation of this verse, is there any suggestion whatever given that our Lord will be visible to men's natural eyes while descending from Heaven amid the shout, the voice of the Archangel and the trump of God, all of which do not in the least require His visibility for their operation. And since the passages neither state nor imply His visibility during the activities accompanying His descent from Heaven, we are not, contrary to the many Scripture teachings on the subject, to read into these passages such a visibility of our Lord at His Return.
1 Thes. 4:17 is also often misunderstood. As it reads in the A. V., even if detached from the rest of the Bible, it could not reasonably have the sense that some give it, i.e., that in the next instant after the sleeping saints are awakened, the living saints are caught up with them at the same instant of time to meet the Lord in the air. Their thought is that while the sleeping saints are resurrected an instant before they are caught up into the air, this awakening is done in order instantly thereafter to put them into a position to be caught up into the air with the living saints, so that both groups might at the same instant be caught up into the air to meet the Lord together. The following will clarify the subject: The A. V.'s is not a happy translation of 1 Thes. 4:17. The following is that of the I. V., which, we believe, is correct, and which we will give with a few bracketed comments: And the dead in Christ will be raised first. Afterward [which certainly does not mean the next instant] we, the living, the left-over ones, during the same period [co-operating] with them [in the Harvest work], shall be forcibly seized by clouds [troubles] into the air for a meeting of the Lord; and so shall we ever be, etc.
Some seek to set aside the truth that the resurrection of the Body of Christ stretches over a period of time, by the claim that the dead and living saints will all at practically the same moment of time be resurrected and at the same moment will ascend to meet the Lord in the air, as they view 1 Thes. 4:17. But the Bible, after denying that the living saints will precede the dead saints in resurrection (1 Thes. 4:15), most pointedly contradicts their thought, saying: "The dead in Christ shall be raised first; afterward (epeita; compare 1 Cor. 15:6, 7, 23, 46; Gal. 1:18, 21; 2:1; Heb. 7:27; Jas. 3:17; 4:14), we, the living, the left-over ones, with them shall be forcibly seized by clouds into the air for a meeting of the Lord, etc." The order in which St. Paul puts the resurrection, first that of the sleeping saints and second that of the then living saints, in 1 Cor. 15:52, proves the same thing. When St. Paul says that the living saints will be changed in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, he is not referring to all of them undergoing their resurrection change at the same moment, but to the resurrection change of each one as an instantaneous one. Thus, while it takes a period of years for all the saints to undergo their change, each one of them undergoes it instantaneously. The trump of 1 Cor. 15:52 is the same as that of 1 Thes. 4:16 and Rev. 11:15, as a comparison of their statements proves; and Rev. 11:15-18 proves that that trumpet blows a long time, 1000 years. The words in 1 Cor. 15:52, "at [during] the last trump," imply that the time of the first resurrection is a period, not an instant.
"IN FLAMING FIRE TAKING VENGEANCE"
Nor does 2 Thes. 1:7, 8 any more state or imply that our Lord will be visible to the natural eyes of men when it says that He will be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance, than it is stated or implied that God is made visible to the natural eyes of men when the Bible says that He has been revealed by Himself or by Christ to men (1 Sam. 3:7; Matt. 11:27). In every case, as
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previously shown, the revelation was made to the eyes of understanding, and not to the natural physical eyes. Some explanations of this passage will, we trust, make its thought clearer. As we have already shown in E Vol. 2, p. 80, the Greek word aggeloi (here translated angels) and the corresponding Hebrew word malochim (usually translated messengers or ambassadors) mean messengers, regardless of whether the messengers are human or spirit beings. The Greek of 2 Thes. 1:7 reads, not mighty angels, but angels or messengers of His power. We understand these messengers of His power to represent the agencies that His power uses for the overthrow of Satan's Empire in the Great Tribulation, such as the World-War, the coming World-Revolution, World-Anarchy and their accompanying World-Famines and World-Pestilences, together with the instrumentalities by which they are effected. The flaming fire of this verse, as elsewhere in the Scriptures, represents the fierce destructiveness that accompanies these five forms of the Great Tribulation, which as v. 8 shows, will be in punishment of mankind's sin, as also Rev. 11:15-18 teaches. Please notice that the passage does not teach that our Lord is revealed in the sky, but in flaming fire, in the fearful destructiveness of the Time of Trouble. Thus the passage teaches that His Second Advent from Heaven will be accompanied by the mighty agents of the Great Tribulation and that, in the destructive troubles brought upon mankind through these, by justice in punishment for sin, men will recognize with their mental, not physical eyes, that the Lord Jesus has returned, is overthrowing Satan's Empire, incidental thereto is punishing the agents of that Empire, and is so shaping the events of that trouble as to pave the way for the establishment of God's Kingdom. Thus viewed, the passage shows that the revelation of Jesus at His Return, will be made, not to men's natural, but to their mental eyes, in or through the destructive effects of the Great Tribulation as Scripturally taught evidences
of His Parousia and Epiphany. This passage, like every other Biblical passage treating on the subject, mentions not one word of our Lord's being seen with men's natural eyes at His Second Advent; but like all others, teaches that He is revealed as present, not by the sight of His body, but by the signs and works.
Thus we have shown the harmony of 1 Thes. 4:16 and 2 Thes. 1:7, 8 with the many Scripture passages and doctrines which were discussed above, and which prove that our Lord's Return is invisible to men's natural, but manifest to their mental eyes.
GLORY TO GOD, AND GRACE TO MAN
'Tis come, the time so long foretold,
The time Eternal Love forecast;
Six thousand years of toil have rolled,
And God hath sent His Son at last;
Let heaven and earth adore the plan—
Glory to God, and grace to man!
With men set free from overlords,
And Satan bound a thousand years,
To plowshares they shall beat their swords,
To pruninghooks their spears;
For peace shall reign where riot ran—
Glory to God, and grace to man!
And as the shades of night disperse,
All knees shall bow, all tongues confess;
For God will roll away the curse,
And whosoever will He'll bless
O Love Divine, which none can span!
Glory to God, and grace to man!