THE PRIME PROPHECIES
The purpose of this paper is to focus on the major prophecies in the epistles of Paul. These nine prophetic themes include the Apostasy, the Rapture, the Day of the Lord, the unveiling of the Antichrist, the Judgment of Believers, the Second Coming of Christ, the restoration of Israel, the Last Judgment, and the Eternal State. This paper will cover the most important prophecies in Paul's epistles. I am presenting them in the order in which they will occur, more or less, in the unfolding of Bible prophecy.
The Intermediate State
I have placed the intermediate state first because it is the prophetic event that Christians face next, if they should die before the Rapture. Paul speaks of the intermediate state when he says:
"We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (II Corinthians 5:8).
At death, the Christian goes immediately into the presence of God in Heaven, "absent from the bodypresent with the Lord." This is the opposite of being in our bodies on earth, and absent from the Lord, as he tells us in verse six:
"Whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord" (II Corinthians 5:6).
When the Christian dies, or is raptured, he goes at once into Heaven - into the intermediate state. Paul also speaks of this in Philippians:
"For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you" (Philippians 1:23-24).
When he would "depart" in death he would "be with Christ." Physical death does not involve the loss of consciousness. The soul and body are separated, and the soul goes at once into the presence of Christ. The body and soul will not be reunited until the Rapture. Those who go directly to Heaven at death or the Rapture have been redeemed and justified by faith in Christ:
"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus"
The souls of the unconverted go immediately to Hell (Luke 16:19-26), where they are kept until the Last Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).
Heaven is neglected nearly as much as Hell in American preaching today. The immediate nature of both Heaven and Hell should constantly be brought before people's minds from the pulpit. Worldliness results from preaching which does not focus on eternal things. Few if any real conversions will occur in a church where Heaven and Hell are not among the pastor's constant themes.
In II Thessalonians, Paul gives the term, "a falling away" (II Thessalonians 2:3). The Greek word that this phrase translates is he apostasa, "the apostasy."
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first [he apostasa - the apostasy], and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition" (II Thessalonians 2:3).
Dr. W. A. Criswell gives this comment:
The composite word [the apostasy] literally means a "standing away from." The implication is that before "the day of the Lord" there will occur a marked falling away of professed believers. The use of the article indicates that Paul has in mind a specific apostasy (Criswell Study Bible, note on II Thessalonians 2:3).
Dr. Charles C. Ryrie comments:
The apostasy. An aggressive and climactic revolt against God which will prepare the way for the appearance of the man of sin (Ryrie Study Bible, note on II Thessalonians 2:3).
II Thessalonians 2:3 tells us that the apostasy comes "first," before the man of sin (the Antichrist) is revealed, which seems to indicate that the full apostasy will culminate under the Antichrist in the Tribulation period, but that it begins "first," before the man of sin is revealed. This position gives a prophetic explanation for the churches becoming increasingly apostate since Charles G. Finney introduced doctrines and practices in the nineteenth century which resulted in millions of unconverted people flooding into the churches by the end of the twentieth century (cf. R. L. Hymers, Jr., Christopher Cagan, Today's Apostasy, Hearthstone Publishing, Ltd., 1999).
Dave Hunt points out that the main religious deception of the last days comes from professing Christians:
Christ is not referring [in Matthew 24:4-5,11,24] to this worldwide deception coming from rival religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, or Islam. The "false Christs and false prophets" are professing Christians Paul's final warning to Timothy leaves no doubt that the Church at Christ's return will have been corrupted through rejection of sound doctrine both by the many false prophets and those who love their ways and encourage and support them (Dave Hunt, Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible, AMG Publishers, 2000, p. 1303. Hereafter referred to as The Prophecy Study Bible).
Some have felt that the words "falling away" should be translated "departure," and refer to the physical departure of Christians from the world at the Rapture. The more popular view is that the words "falling away" refer to the end-time apostasy, and are connected to the period of the Antichrist's reign. "The important truth here is 'that day,' the Glorious Appearing, will not occur until the 'son of perdition' has been revealed" (The Prophecy Study Bible, note on II Thessalonians 2:3).
II Thessalonians 2:7 is another important verse:
"For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [restrains] will let [restrain], until he be taken out of the way" (II Thessalonians 2:7).
This verse indicates that God will restrain, or hold back, the "mystery of iniquity" until He stops restraining it. This does not mean that God is gone, because He is omnipresent. It simply means that God's restraint of iniquity ceases during the Tribulation period. At that time, God will no longer hold back lawlessness and sin. God will continue to work in the conversion of sinners, so that a remnant of Israel (Revelation 7:4-8) and "a great multitude" of Gentiles will be saved (Revelation 7:9-17).
I Timothy 4:1-2 speaks of demonic influence behind the end-time apostasy:
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron" (I Timothy 4:1-2).
The term "last days" in Hebrews 1:2 refers to the entire Christian dispensation. But the term "latter times" in I Timothy 4:1 is restricted to the end of the current age. These two verses should be understood according to the context. "This passage characterizes the way things will be during the last days of the Church Age, an apt description of the times in which we currently live" (The Prophecy Study Bible, note on I Timothy 4:1-2).
The Holy Spirit expressly (explicitly) makes a point in this passage of warning against apostasy in the end-times. "Depart from the faith." The word "depart" comes from the Greek word for "apostatize." It refers to a move away from the original position. The false teachings of the latter times have their root in the activity of demons. These false teachings are then promoted through those who speak "lies in hypocrisy," whose consciences have been "seared with a hot iron." The consciences of those who "speak lies" "becomes distorted 'seared with a hot iron' and, therefore, insensitive to the things of God" (Criswell Study Bible, note on I Timothy 4:2).
Another key Pauline passage regarding the apostasy of the last days occurs in II Timothy 3:1-13,
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (II Timothy 3:1-13).
The Prophecy Study Bible gives this note on the passage:
Since phrases like "latter days," "latter times" are used in different contexts they may refer to differing time periods, depending on their contexts. "Last days" in this context refers to the end of the current Church Age. The perilous times that Paul speaks of do not refer to the behavior in the world, since the world in many regards has always been this way. Instead, Paul speaks of these characteristics that have infiltrated into the Church from the world. This is one of the major New Testament passages that teach a spreading apostasy throughout the Church in the Last Days. Paul's instruction regarding apostate people is to "turn away," which means to disregard and disassociate with them (The Prophecy Study Bible, note on II Timothy 3:1-9).
The "last days" in verse one refers to the end of the Christian dispensation. "Perilous times" is from a Greek word used only one other time in the New Testament - regarding the Gadarene demoniac! Matthew 8:28 says that the demon possessed man was "exceeding fierce." The Greek word is number 5467 in Strong's Concordance, and means, "dangerous, furious, fierce, perilous," according to the concordance. The note in The Prophecy Study Bible tells us that this characteristic has "infiltrated into the Church" (ibid.). Thus, this passage of Scripture predicts many church members becoming "dangerous, furious, and fierce" in the last days.
A list of the traits of these church members is given in verses two through four. They are said to have "a form" (i.e. the outward form) of godliness, but not the true experience. They are compared to Jannes and Jambres, "the magicians in Pharaoh's court who, through the power of Satan, duplicated to a point the miracles that God did through Moses and Aaron" (Dave Hunt, The Prophecy Study Bible, p. 1303). The point of the illustration is this: these Egyptians resisted the truth, and so will the apostate church members of the last days. The godly will suffer persecution as these evil church members grow worse and worse "deceiving, and being deceived" (v. 13).
Kenneth Wuest gives an exposition of II Timothy 3:1-5,
"Perilous" is chalepos, literally, "hard times"The word speaks of the difficult, dangerous times in which Christians, living just before the Rapture, will encounter. "Shall come" is enistēmi, "to set in." "Men" is anthrōpos, the generic, racial term referring, not to male individuals only, but to the race, mankind. "Lovers of their own selves" is philautos, made up of phileō, "to be fond of," and autos, "self," thus, "fond of self." The word agapaō, referring to the love produced in the heart of the believer by the Holy Spirit, is not used here. It is phileō, which speaks of a fondness, a liking, an affection. "Covetous" is philarguros, made up of phileō, "to be fond of," and arguros, "silver," thus "fond of money." "Boasters" is alazōn, its root, the same as that of ale, "wandering," its meaning, "an empty pretender, a boaster, a swaggerer." "Proud" is huperēphanos, "to show above," thus, speaks of one who shows himself to be above other people. Vincent defines it by the word "haughty." "Blasphemous" is blasphēmos, "speaking evil, slanderous, reproachful, reviling, railing, abusive." "Without natural affection" is astorgos. This is the Greek word denoting natural affection, with Alpha, which when prefixed to a word negates its meaning. The word is stergō It is the love of parents for children, and children for parents, of husband for wife, and wife for husband This is the binding factor by which any natural or social unit is held together. "Trucebreakers" is aspondos. The word is made up of spondē, "a libation," which is a kind of sacrifice, and which accompanied the making of treaties and compacts. The Alpha prefixed, negates the word, and it means "refusing to enter into a treaty, irreconcilable, implacable." "False accusers" is diabolos, the word used for the devil, literally, "slanderers." "Incontinent" is akratēs. Kratos means "power," and with Alpha privative means "without power," thus "without power over one's self," thus "without self-control." "Fierce" is anēmeros, "not tame; savage, fierce." "Despisers of those that are good," is aphilagathos, literally "not fond of that which is good" "Traitors" is prodotēs, "a betrayer or traitor." "Heady" is propetēs, from pro, "before" and piptō, "to fall," thus, "falling forwards, headlong: precipitous." It describes a person who is reckless, headstrong "Highminded" is tuphoō, "to raise a smoke, to wrap in a mist." It is used metaphorically, "to make proud, puff up with pride, render insolent." The participle here is perfect in tense, and speaks of a person who in the past has come to a state of such pride, and is so puffed up, that his mind as a permanent result is beclouded and besotted with pride. "Lovers of pleasure, lovers of God"; the word is phileō, "to be fond of." "Form" is morphōsis "Here, the mere outward resemblance, as distinguished from the essential reality." "Godliness" is eusebia, not "godlikeness," but "reverence, respect, piety toward God." "Power" is dunamis, "power" in the sense of that which overcomes resistance. It is used in Rom. 1:16 of the power of God which results in salvation. Here it refers to that same power which those who only have an outward semblance of piety toward God and not the inward reality, refuse to allow access to their lives that they might be saved (Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest's Word Studies From the Greek New Testament, The Pastoral Epistles, William B. Eerdmans, 1975 reprint, pp. 143-145).
II Timothy 4:2-4 gives further information regarding the end-time apostasy.
"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (II Timothy 4:2-4).
Dr. Marvin R. Vincent in his Word Studies of the New Testament, volume IV, pp. 320-321, gives this comment:
[They] shall invite teachers en masse. In periods of unsettled faith, skepticism, and mere curious speculation in matters of religion, teachers of all kinds swarm like the flies in Egypt. The demand creates the supply. The hearers invite and shape their own preachers. If the people desire a calf to worship, a ministerial calf-maker is readily foundClement of Alexandria describes certain teachers as "scratching and tickling, in no human way, the ears of those who eagerly desire to be scratched" Seneca says: "Some come to hear, not to learn, just as we go to the theatre, for pleasure, to delight our ears with the speaking or the voice of the plays."
This has certainly become true in our day. Preaching, which contains reproof, rebuke, and exhortation (II Timothy 4:2) is replaced by teaching, designed to accommodate "itching ears" (II Timothy 4:3); proclamation is displaced by instruction. Note the two different Greek words, one for preaching (kērussō - to proclaim) and the other for teaching (didaskalō - to instruct). Preaching is replaced by mere teaching as the age draws to a close. They will "turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (i.e. myths). They will "turn to many different teachers of novelty and untruth" (Ryrie Study Bible, note on II Timothy 4:3-4).
The Day of the Lord
The Day of the Lord is spoken of over thirty times in the Old Testament. The first mention of it in the New Testament, other than Peter's quotation of Joel 2:31 in Acts 2:20, is given by Paul in I Thessalonians 5:2-6,
"For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober"
(I Thessalonians 5:2-6).
The phrase "Day of the Lord" does not refer to a single day, "but a period of time filled with many prophetic events. The context must be considered to determine what time or event is consideredThis verserefers to the Tribulation and end-time events that lead up to the physical coming of Christ" (The Prophecy Study Bible, note on I Thessalonians 5:2).
The Day of the Lord comes "as a thief in the night" (v. 2), that is, suddenly and unexpectedly. When the Rapture of true Christians occurs (I Thessalonians 4:16-17), the Day of the Lord begins with the events of the seven-year Tribulation. Dr. McGee comments:
"When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them." It is going to be a big surprise to the world. They are not going to expect it. I believe that the "big lie," which is in the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians, is the promise of peace and safety. The Lord Jesus warned of that: "Take heed that no man deceive you." The world expects to enter a great era of peace, the Millennium, but they will find themselves plunged into the Great Tribulation, which will include the greatest war the world has ever seen. It will come upon them suddenly, like a thief in the night (J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible, volume V, page 400).
The Rapture of true Christians ushers in the beginning of the Day of the Lord. The Great Tribulation begins directly after the Rapture, and is the first event in this period, which Paul refers to, in I Thessalonians 5:2, as "the day of the Lord."
"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief" (I Thessalonians 5:4).
It will not overtake true Christians as a thief because they will not be here. Christians will have already been "caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air" at the Rapture (I Thessalonians 4:17).
So, the Rapture is the first event. This is followed by the Great Tribulation, spoken of by Christ.
"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21).
Other events in the Day of the Lord include
(1) The return of the Lord in glory; (2) the destruction of the Beast and his hostand the false prophet; (3) the judgment of the nations; (4) the thousand years, i.e. the kingdom-age; (5) the Satanic revolt and its end; (6) the second resurrection and final judgment; and (7) theearth purged with fire (Scofield Study Bible, note on Revelation 19:19).
The Unveiling of the Antichrist
Paul refers to "the man of sin" in his exposition on the rule of the Antichrist, in II Thessalonians, chapter two. The term "antichrist" is not Pauline, but comes from John's first epistle:
"Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time" (I John 2:18).
John tells us that there are many antichrists, many who oppose Christ, but he also speaks in this verse of "antichrist that shall come." Paul refers to this same personage as "the man of sin," in II Thessalonians 2:3,
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness"
(II Thessalonians 2:1-12).
"By our gathering together unto him" (v. 1) refers to the Rapture (cf. I Thessalonians 4:15-17). Verse two indicates that the Rapture has not occurred yet. Regarding verse three, Dr. McGee tells us that
The Day of the Lord shall not come except there be the fulfilling of two conditions: (1) "There come a falling away first" and (2) "that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." Both of these things must take place before the Day of the Lord can begin, and neither one of them has taken place as yet (J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible, ibid., p. 413).
In verse four we are told that the man of sin (the Antichrist) will sit "in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." This is a prophetic reference to the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Antichrist will go into the Temple and "demand that he be worshipped as God" (The Prophecy Study Bible, note on II Thessalonians 2:4). Verses six and seven tell us that God will no longer restrain the "mystery of iniquity"; lawlessness and sin will no longer be held back by God. When the restraint of God is removed, "then shall that Wicked be revealed" (verse eight). Verses nine and ten describe the Satanic "signs and lying wonders" that the Antichrist will perform as he deceives the unbelieving world during the Tribulation period. God Himself will "send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they might all be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." During the Great Tribulation many will be saved (Revelation 14:1-13; 7:9), but "they will not constitute the majority of those living at that time" (The Prophecy Study Bible, note on II Thessalonians 2:10). "The level of satanic influence in the Tribulation period will mark it as a very deceptive period of time" (ibid., note on II Thessalonians 2:9).
The Judgment of Believers
Paul speaks of the Judgment Seat of Christ several times. In Romans 14:10-12, he says:
"But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:10-12).
Christians ought to be more concerned with avoiding sins themselves than with judging other Christians. Verse eleven contains a question from Isaiah 45:23, and then Paul draws from that quotation the conclusion that every Christian must face the Judgment Seat of Christ to "give account of himself to God" (verse 12).
Paul also speaks of the Judgment Seat of Christ in I Corinthians, chapter three,
"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire" (I Corinthians 3:11-15).
In this description of the Judgment Seat of Christ, Paul tells us that the wood, hay and stubble (good works done from a wrong motive) will be burned at the Judgment Seat. The person whose works are thus consumed will be saved from Hell, but will have no rewards in the Kingdom. Matthew 25:14-23 and Luke 19:11-28 are commentaries on I Corinthians 3:11-15. Concerning the passage in Matthew 25 The Prophecy Study Bible says:
Not all are expected to produce the same results, but all are to be faithful with what they have. The phrase "after a long time" gives a veiled indication of the length of Christ's session in heaven during the present age. Each of those producing results is commended by the Master and promised that he will be a "ruler over many things," with a view to continued service in the Millennial Kingdom (note on Matthew 25:14-23).
The wicked and slothful servant, described in verses 23-28, who is cast into outer darkness, in verse 30, is "not a true disciple of the Master" (ibid., note on Matthew 25:26-30).
The Prophecy Study Bible gives the following comments on Luke 19:11-28,
These verses demonstrate that a believer's performance during the absence of the King will determine one's position and responsibility when the kingdom does arrive at the return of Jesus (note on Luke 19:16-28).
Thus, Luke 19:11-28 and Matthew 25:14-23 should be read as an explanation of, and commentary on, the Judgment Seat of Christ, as given in I Corinthians 3:11-15.
In II Corinthians 5:10, Paul says:
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad"
(II Corinthians 5:10).
All Christians will give an account of how they lived at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Dr. J. Vernon McGee makes this comment:
This is the judgment seat, literally, the bema. There is still a bema in Corinth, and when we were there on tour, we took pictures of the ruins of it. This was the place where the judges of the city would meet the citizens and would judge them for certain things - there was no question of life or death. At the judgment seat of Christ only believers will appearThe judgment is to see whether you are going to get a reward or not The question He will ask is how we used these bodies. How did we live down here? (Thru the Bible, volume V, page 109).
The Second Coming of Christ
Dr. John F. Walvoord said:
The second coming of Christ is not only a dominant theme of the Old Testament but is also pervasive throughout the New Testament. It has been estimated that one out of every twenty-five verses in the New Testament is a reference either to the rapture of the church or the second coming of Christ and his reign over the earth (John F. Walvoord, Major Bible Prophecies, 1991, p. 368).
The Apostle Paul speaks of the Second Coming of Christ several times. These are listed in chronological order, as they appear in his writings.
First, Paul mentions the Second Coming in connection with the Lord's Supper:
"For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come"
(I Corinthians 11:23-26).
The Lord's Supper is a memorial to Christ's death "till he come."
Next, Paul tells us that death will be destroyed at the Second Coming:
"Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all" (I Corinthians 15:24-28).
Charles Ryrie points out that "The order of resurrections is as follows: first, Christ's; then that of believers, at His coming (I Thessalonians 4:13-18); and finally, the resurrection at the end of the millennial kingdom" (Ryrie Study Bible, note on I Corinthians 15:23-24). This passage does not discuss the Rapture, but describes the resurrection at the Second Coming (ref. The Prophecy Study Bible, note on I Corinthians 15:23-27).
Paul speaks on Christ's appearing as King of Kings in the sixth chapter of I Timothy:
"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen"
(I Timothy 6:12-16).
The word "potentate" in verse fifteen is a translation of the Greek word for "sovereignty" (Fritz Rienecker, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Zondervan, 1980, p. 635). Christ's sovereignty is displayed in His Second Coming as "King of kings, and Lord of lords" (I Timothy 6:15). This title is also used of Christ in Revelation 17:14.
The power and might of Jesus at His Second Coming is also described by Paul in II Thessalonians:
"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day"
(II Thessalonians 1:7-10).
"Everlasting destruction" does not mean annihilation. After this event they will be judged and cast into the lake of fire (cf. Revelation 20:11-15).
The Restoration of Israel
Paul speaks extensively on the restoration of Israel in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters of Romans. Here are some of the key verses:
"Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved" (Romans 9:27).
Paul quotes Isaiah 10:22 and applies it to the remnant of Jews who would believe in Jesus in the future.
"What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness" (Romans 9:30-31).
The Prophecy Study Bible says:
This is not a replacement of Israel by the predominantly Gentile Church, but rather the formation of a new body of believers consisting of Jews and Gentiles, a mystery foreseen and planned by God from the foundation of the world (Ephesians 3:3-11). No specific promises to Israel have ever been abrogated, but must and will be fulfilled during the Millennial Kingdom (The Prophecy Study Bible, note on Romans 9:30-31).
In chapter ten of Romans, verses one through four, Paul speaks of his desire for the salvation of Israel, who had rejected the righteousness of Christ and sought to establish their own righteousness:
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Romans 10:1-4).
The Prophecy Study Bible says this:
The apostle's expression of affection here is very strong, as he points out again that attempting to establish one's own righteousness, as did the Jew, meant the Jew had not submitted to the righteousness of God, which came only through Jesus (The Prophecy Study Bible, note on Romans 10:1).
Paul continued by saying that God had not completely rejected Israel:
"I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace" (Romans 11:1-5).
The Prophecy Study Bible says:
In spite of Israel's disobedience, God has not absolutely thrust them away from Himself, nor has He nullified His covenants with them (note on Romans 11:1).
In Old Testament times of deep spiritual apostasy in Israel, a remnant always remained loyal to Jehovah. During the first century, the remnant of Jews accepting the Messiah spread the gospel to the Gentiles. In the future Tribulation, after the Rapture, a remnant of Messianic Jews will preach the gospel (The Prophecy Study Bible, note on Romans 11:5).
In Romans 11:12, Paul writes of the restoration of Israel:
"Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?" (Romans 11:12).
The Prophecy Study Bible says:
If the diminishing of Israel through unbelief had the blessed result of bringing the gospel and salvation to the Gentiles, how much more blessed will the future be, when Israel becomes a nation of believers and worshipers of Jesus the Messiah (The Prophecy Study Bible, note on Romans 11:12).
Paul writes that one day all Israel shall be saved:
"And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (Romans 11:26).
The Prophecy Study Bible says:
This deliverance is twofold, indicating rescue from the Gentile armies of the Antichristand spiritual conversion, when the new covenant is established with His people (Jeremiah 31:33-34) (note on Romans 11:26).
In verse twenty-nine, Paul writes:
"For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance" (Romans 11:29).
The Prophecy Study Bible says:
God's sovereign election of Israel is unchangeable and irrevocable. Nowhere in Scripture is the elimination of Israel as His earthly chosen people ever expressed or implied. Israel's promised destiny is as certain as the promises of God; the promises to Israel will be experienced by Israel (note on Romans 11:29).
The Last Judgment
Paul speaks of God's judgment in general in Romans 2:1-16. This passage speaks of principles that will be operative both at the judgment of believers and the Last Judgment.
The great New Testament passage on the Last Judgment is Revelation 20:11-15. The Last Judgment is the judgment of unsaved lost people, whose sins will be read out of "the books," whose names are not recorded in "the book of life." They will be cast into the Lake of Fire after the Last Judgment.
Paul speaks of this event several times in his epistles, particularly in II Timothy 4:1,
"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom" (II Timothy 4:1).
The Eternal State
Paul speaks of the Eternal State in Romans, chapter eight:
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body"
This promise will begin to be fulfilled in the Millennial Kingdom. The ultimate and complete fulfillment will happen after the Millennium and the Last Judgment, in the Eternal State. Dr. W. A. Criswell comments:
"Creature" is properly translated as "creation." When Adam fell, the entire cosmos suffered the results of sin (Genesis 3:17-18). Primitive domesticity among the animals was lost, and decadence became apparent in every aspect of the universe. All of this creation of God groans and travails awaiting the day when it, too, shall be delivered from the bondage of its corruption into the liberty of the children of God (Criswell Study Bible, note on Romans 8:21-22).
Paul speaks of the Eternal State in these beautiful and meaningful words, quoted from Isaiah 64:4,
"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" (I Corinthians 2:9).
Criswell, W. A., ed. The Criswell Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981.
Hymers, R. L. and Cagan, Christopher. Today's Apostasy. Oklahoma City, OK: Hearthstone Publishing, 1999; second edition, 2001.
LaHaye, Tim., ed. The Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002.
McGee, J. Vernon. Thru the Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983. Five volumes.
Ryrie, Charles C., ed. The Ryrie Study Bible. Chicago: Moody Press, 1994.
Scofield, C. I., ed. The Scofield Study Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 1917.
Vincent, Marvin R. Word Studies in the New Testament. Hendrickson Publishers. Four volumes.
Rienecker, Fritz. Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1980.
Walvoord, John F. Major Bible Prophecies. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991.
Wuest, Kenneth. Wuest's Word Studies From the Greek New Testament, The Pastoral Epistles. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1975 reprint.