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A Response to Post- Tribulationism 1Thessalonians 4:17 on the meaning of a Ó pa ¿ nthsi ß, apante œ sis.

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Presentation on theme: "A Response to Post- Tribulationism 1Thessalonians 4:17 on the meaning of a Ó pa ¿ nthsi ß, apante œ sis."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Response to Post- Tribulationism 1Thessalonians 4:17 on the meaning of a Ó pa ¿ nthsi ß, apante œ sis

2 (17) Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. The Post-Tribulationist position, as far as this passage is concerned, hinges on the meaning of a Ó pa ¿ nthsi ß, apante œ sis (meet).

3 What do we mean by this? In 1930, after newly discovered papyri and inscriptions describing Hellenistic Formal Receptions, E. Peterson wrote an important article arguing that Pauls use of a Ó pa ¿ nthsi ß, apante œ sis in 1Thess. 4:17 is dependent on the Hellenistic background of all the images that is suggested by this term. And therefore Paul did not have to explain what all these elements in this conceptual framework consisted of because his audience in Thessalonica would have understood.

4 Joseph Plevnick summarizes this understanding of the term, …at the approach of the imperial visitor the citizens would go out of their city to meet ( ei˙ ß a Ó pa ¿ nthsin) the dignitary and conduct him in a parade [escort back] to their city. …[and thus similarly] at the coming of the Lord the faithful would leave their earthly habitations…and go to meet ( ei˙ ß a Ó pa ¿ nthsin) him and to accompany him joyfully to their earthly city.

5 Following this Hellenistic scheme, Post- Tribbers will argue that the purpose of the rapture then is for the raptured saints to meet the Lord in the air so as to immediately escort the Lord back to earth. And since they affirm that the rapture occurs at the very end of the 70th week of Daniel, this according to their proponents, fits will with their chronology of events.

6 Four Arguments Against this Post- Tribulational Understanding. 1. Apante œ sin is not a technical term in Hellenisitc formal reception descriptions. It is not used in as a technical term in Greek literature. Michael Cosby has written a seminal article titled, Hellenistic Formal Receptions and Pauls Use of a Ó pa ¿ nthsi ß in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. He writes, A computer [data base] search of the literature written during the several centuries surrounding Pauls era…produced 91 pages of citations of passages that employ [this term and its synonyms]. Yet only a minority of the uses of these terms describes formal receptions. For example, in the passages located, Philo Judaeus uses these words 27 times, but not once to describe the meeting of a dignitary. Sometimes it describes a formal meeting with a dignitary, and sometimes it does not (e.g. soldiers meeting soldiers).

7 Cont.… The term and its synonyms occurs about 130 in the LXX in a different contexts. ei˙ ß a Ó pa ¿ nthsin only occurs once in the sources provided by Peterson; but 60 times in the LXX and three times in the NT. Infrequently does the term in the underlying Hebrew means go to bring back Cosby also searched the five volumes of Biblia Patristica and found only one example from the late fourth century sermon by John Chrysostom who interprets the Thessalonian passage in the formal reception scheme.

8 2. A Lack of Correspondence between Pauls Description and Hellenistic Formal Reception In the Hellenistic scheme it is the citizens who are the active agents who will bring the dignitary back to the city. But in Pauls description, it is the opposite, the Lord himself acts upon the faithful believers and takes them up to the air. One of the most conspicuous images in Pauls description is the cry of the command, the archangel, and the trumpet call, which functions to summon, not greet. These motifs are absent in Hellenistic Formal Reception.

9 Cont…. Even if there were a few similar images (which one would expect, by the way, given that Christs Second Coming is a formal event) it would be a fallacy to make the leap that Paul assumed that his readers would be aware of all the trappings that accompanies a Hellenistic formal reception--particularly the notion of an immediate escort back to earth! In other words, on this last point, the Post-Trib admits that Paul does not say there is an escort back to earth. But, says the Post-Tribber, since Paul is relying on a particular meaning of the Hellenistic term apante œ sin it entails that his Thessalonian readers would assume that Christ is escorted back to earth by the church.

10 In Short… … the Hellenistic formal reception model does not account for Pauls language. The main features of Hellenistic receptions are absent from 1 Thess. 4: And thus, it is unwarranted to read this Hellenistic framework back into 1 Thess. 4: And as Cosby rightly asserts, even if one assumes that Paul understood [ apante œ sin] in this way, the evidence demonstrates that he did not read such meaning wholesale into his description of the Parousia.

11 3. Pauls Description Resembles OT, Jewish Apocalyptic, and Jesus Imagery Parallels with the Sinai theophany in Exodus 19:10-18 And the LORD said to Moses, Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes (11) and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. (12) Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. (13) He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on him. Whether man or animal, he shall not be permitted to live. Only when the rams horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain.

12 (14) After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. (15) Then he said to the people, Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations. (16) On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. (17) Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. (18) Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, (19) and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. - Ex 19:10-19

13 Cont. But indeed these motifs of the Sinai theophany does not exhaust all the counterparts to the Thessalonian text. However, the motifs of the Sinai theophany are underscored by Jewish apocalyptic descriptions such for example in 1 Enoch 1:3-9 Matthew 24

14 Bibliography on the above- mentioned points Hellenistic Formal Receptions and Pauls Use of a Ó pa ¿ nthsi ß 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Michael R. Cosby, Bullentin for Biblical Research 4 (1994) Paul and the Parousia: An Exegetical and Theological Investigation by Joseph Plevnik 1 Thessalonians 4,17: The Bringing in of the Lord or the Bringing in of the Faithful?, Joseph Plevnik, Biblica, Vol. 80 Fasc. 4 (1999)

15 4. Where do Believers go after they are United with Christ in the Air? Three possibilities 1. Remain in the Air 2. Enter a Heavenly Abode 3. Escort Christ downward to Earth Since apante œ sin does not require an understanding of a subsequent destination after meeting with the Lord, and, since nowhere else in the Thessalonian passage it suggests a destination for believers, we have to look outside of this text to find our answer.

16 Rev 7:9-15 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. (10) And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb. (11) …. (13) Then one of the elders asked me, These in white robeswho are they, and where did they come from? (14) I answered, Sir, you know. And he said, These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (15) Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.

17 Revelation 21:1-2ff Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband ….


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