Rapture Passages – Titus 2

09Apr11

Titus 2:13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

The verse is a favorite among Dispensationalist, especially Dave Hunt. Not only does Hunt see the Second Coming of Christ but also the Pre-Tribulation rapture of the Church. The “comma” is the Tribulation! So, the “blessed hope” is the rapture, the comma is the tribulation and the appearing is the Second Coming. There Mr. Hunt argues you have the Dispensational plan laid out so obvious a small could understand it.

But is that really what the author had in mind? The context of this passage is about personal holiness and lifestyle decisions. This passage is a call to holiness and the insertion of the rapture or second coming is a bit odd, but not an impossibility.

BLESSED HOPE

But note how Mr. Hunt and others make the assumption that the rapture is the “blessed hope” without ever proving that it is. Does Jesus or the Apostles in the writing in the New Testament ever state that escape from the present condition or a future worsening condition was a blessed hope?

Did Jesus pray that His disciples would be spared and removed from the world?

John 17:15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.

On the contrary. Jesus prays for their safety and perseverance amidst the coming tribulation. There is no Scriptural argument that the “blessed hope” would be the rapture. We are encouraged to always be ready to give an answer to the hope that lies within us, which is the hope of the Gospel, not the rapture. Dispensationalist that use this passage assume that which needs to be proven and then force that assumption into the exegesis of the passage.

THE APPEARING

Here is a much more difficult question to answer. Just what is this “appearing?” Note that the passage does not state the appearing of Jesus, but rather the appearing of His glory. This may just be semantics and it could refer to the Second Coming. Here is another mountain I will not die on, but since there have been several purposed possibilities as to what is being spoken of here, it is worth our study time to consider each of them.

The first is that this appearing is the actual Second Coming of Christ. It appears to be the most natural reading of the passage, even with the difficulty is noting that it does not state that Jesus appears, but that His glory appears.

The second proposition is that this is a mention of “personal eschatology” or the coming of Christ to individuals at their death. This makes sense within the context as the context is dealing with personal conduct and holiness. It would behoove the child of God to live gracious and holy lives for that day when the glory of Jesus does appear before them.

The final idea is that this could be in reference to Jesus’ coming in judgment and vindication, primarily against apostate Israel. Though most of my previous arguments have been that many “comings” do relate to the 70 AD judgment against Israel, I am not totally convinced this is one of them, yet at the same time I do find the arguments compelling enough for consideration.

Paul is arguing that his readers should live holy lifestyles that would separate them from the rest of the world. This type of lifestyle, of course, would naturally result in persecution. This “setting apart” signified those who were different as a result of their unique faith. They would soon, if not already, find tribulation and persecution at their doorstep. The soon coming appearing of Christ in judgment and vindication would prove encouraging.

Even the terminology used by Paul is relation to the visible glory being present, but not necesarrily a physically present Christ, is familiar New testament terminology that even Jesus used Himself to describe a “coming” that was not the literal Seciond Coming.

Matthew 16:27-28 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father …[28] Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. [13] But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

In each of the above passages a “glory” of God is revealed in events that are not the second Coming of Christ. In fact, the final two above deal with how the glory of God is revealed in the midst of the present tribulation the author’s and their reader’s were suffering. They, like the martyr’s around them, were praying for the retribution promised and delivered by Christ.

Rev. 6:9-10 I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. [10] They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

So, it is quite possible that this glory that appears is actually the act of vindication when it is ultimately revealed that the Temple, priestly system and animal sacrifices are null and void and have been utterly and permanently replaced by the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 8:13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

The proof that the old covenant had vanished was the utter destruction of the Temple and the system it promoted in 70 AD.

Whether that is what Paul had in mind or not, it is important to note that even if this verse is about the Second Coming it can be, by no means, used as a proof text for a pre-tribulation rapture followed by a later Second Coming!

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One Response to “Rapture Passages – Titus 2”

  1. 1 Lewis

    Dave Hunt, in case anyone doesn’t know, practically worships the (Darbyist) Plymouth Brethren – the holier-than-thou British eccentrics who have long preferred mind- and conscience-altering delusions to the clear teaching of the Word of God. It’s hard to believe that those who claim to be born-again followers of Christ can so blithely and flippantly ignore not only the real contexts of prophetic passages but also the (fortunately) well-preserved records of their own perversions and revisions of their own dishonesty-riddled history! Historian Dave MacPherson’s 300-page work “The Rapture Plot” includes extensive quotations from 19th century scholars both inside and outside of the same fringe-British sect who documented the obnoxious and unscriptural beliefs and methods of the same PB’s.
    In 1877 a medical doctor, James Carson, wrote: “In place of trying to make everything plain and specific to the eye of the Christian public, the Darbyites have managed to cloak their opinions by using language in a Jesuitical sense, and the consequence is, that none of the parties who have hitherto tilted with them, seem to have been able to discover all peculiarities of the sect, or yet thoroughly to expose and overturn their obnoxious sentiments.” Speaking of the same sect, he added that “Unless a person makes himself properly acquainted with the opinions he controverts, keeps closely and strictly to Bible principles, argues carefully, accurately, and with the utmost precision on every point, and hits home without fear or dread, it is impossible to manage such wily and slippery customers.”
    Even eminent PB scholar S. P. Tregelles was dismayed by what he had observed around him. Exposing some of the dishonest tactics of other PB’s, Tregelles revealed that some of them had been circulating what they claimed were extracts from the writings of earlier Reformers – extracts in which words had been deliberately changed to make it appear that the same Reformers had really been teaching a pretribulation rapture! Referring to older hymns, Tregelles added: “Sometimes from a hymn being altered, writers appear to set forth a secret rapture of which they had never heard, or against which they have protested.”
    At least Dave Hunt, to my knowledge, has never changed the wording of any pre-1830 hymn to give the false impression that it is a pretrib hymn!
    Lewis


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