1 Thessalonians 1:8-10

8 For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.

9 For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,

10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

word of the Lord (v.8) — the words of Paul are the words of Jesus Christ

sounded forth (v.8) = used for the sounding of a herald’s trumpet

not only in Macedonia and Achaia (v.8) — Thessalonica was a major seaport, so the message spread all around the known world

faith toward God (v.8) — this indicates that their minds, which had formerly been focused on idols, were turned toward God

we do not need to say anything (v.8) — those whom Paul would have told about the faith of the Thessalonians already had heard

they themselves (v.9) — the people who had heard and seen evidence of the faith of the Thessalonians

turned (v.9) — tense indicates a change immediately consequent upon a deliberate choice. The word is often used literally of turning oneself around (Mark 5:30). God did not become one of their gods. They turned to Him and left their idols.

turned to God from idols (v.9) — This church was composed largely of converts from pagan religions and not from Judaism (see also 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). Verses 9b-1- summarize the message Paul, Silas and Timothy preached — to serve, as bondslaves, a living (in contrast to lifeless idols) and true God (not false gods). — Ryrie, page 1905.

delivers us from the wrath to come (v.10) —  For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9). The words “deliver us from” have the sense of rescue either out of actual distress or from imminent peril.

wrath (v.10) — the judgments to come in the Tribulation (called “wrath” in Revelation 6:16; to be delivered from this would indicate a pretribulation rapture of believers). — Ryrie, page 1905.

Chronologically this is the first written statement from the pen of Paul regarding the imminent coming of Christ for His own, and it demonstrates the fact that the rapture of the Church is part of the special message committed to him (1 Corinthians 15:51-52) and proclaimed by him even during his earlier ministry.

The prophets of old had predicted the return of Christ to judge and reign. His coming for us, however, will not be associated with judgment, but with grace. We will not be here when the bowls of God’s wrath are poured out upon the earth, for before that time we shall have been “caught up” to be with Christ who hath “delivered us from the wrath to come” (v.10).

It is is this “blessed hope” we are told to “wait for” (1 Thessalonians 1:10), and to “look for” (Philippians 3:20; Titus 2:13), even as we keep “serving the living and true God.”

The Great Tribulation of prophecy is consistently and repeatedly associated with the wrath of God in such phrases as “the day of His wrath,” “the time of His wrath,” His “fierceness and wrath,” “the wrath to come,” etc. (See Psalms 2:5; Isaiah 9:19; 13:9; Jeremiah 10:10; Zephaniah 1:14-15; Revelation 6:15-17; 14:10; 15:1; 16:1, 19; 19:15 et al).

Four Propositions and a Conclusion

  1. Throughout Scripture Israel’s hope and calling are presented as earthly in sphere, while the hope and calling of the Body of Christ are heavenly (see Genesis 12:1-3, 7; Isaiah 11:1-9; Jeremiah 23:5; Matthew 5:5; 6:10 and cf. Ephesians 1:3; 2:5-6; Philippians 3:20; Colossians 1:5; 3:1-3)
  2. Our Lord, while on earth, was sent to none but “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (See Matthew 15:24; Romans 15:8).
  3. If our Lord, while on earth, spoke to His disciples about the rapture of the Body, then the truths of the Body and its rapture to be with Christ were NOT secrets first made known to Paul — as he says they were (See Ephesians 3:1-11; Colossians 1:24-26; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15).
  4. If our Lord on earth urged His disciples to be watching and waiting for the Rapture, then the Rapture must take place after the Great Tribulation, for He also prepared them for this time of trouble (See Matthew 24:3-21).
  5. THEREFORE: Bible teachers who have used Scripture passages from the four Gospels and early Acts to teach the Rapture have failed to rightly divide the Word of truth and have unwittingly helped to bring about the post-tribulation theory, thus frightening sincere Christian people rather than “comforting one another” with the blessed truth that we shall be “delivered from the wrath to come” by the coming of Christ to take the members of His body out of this world (See 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 4:16-18: 5:9-11). — Stam, page 26-28.
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