Discourse 71 - Is the next major event of world history for the faithful the Rapture?




The next major event of world history for the faithful is the Rapture. / Lecture Heinz Weber 00 1982-11-02

Does the expression “the Great Tribulation” only occur in the Old Testament? / Lecture Heinz Weber 01 1982-11-02

Does Matthew 24 not speak of the Great Tribulation? / Lecture Heinz Weber 02 1982-11-02

Must Mt 24 mean something different? / Lecture Heinz Weber 03 1982-11-02

Do the faithful who come out of the Great Tribulation not have anything to do with the congregation? / Lecture Heinz Weber 04 1982-11-02

Is it wrong to use biblical passages as a basis for argument? / Lecture Heinz Weber 05 1982-11-02

Will the congregation reign on earth? / Lecture Heinz Weber 06 1982-11-02

Is it possible that the Lord may come today, now, tomorrow? / Lecture Heinz Weber 07 1982-11-02


(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(The next major event of world history for the faithful is the Rapture. / Lecture HW 1982-11-02*))

The next major event of world history for the faithful is the Rapture. According to the Bible there is no preliminary event that has to happen before the Rapture occurs. So Paul was able to expect it in his own lifetime - now if the foundation of the state of Israel, say, were a condition for the Rapture of the congregation, then Paul would not have been able to write that he was expecting the Rapture in his lifetime. And I could advance many such examples here. According to the Bible there is no event which has to occur before Jesus comes again for his congregation. There are many events that have to occur before Jesus comes again to set up his royal dominion on earth, before the start of the Millennial Kingdom. But that is not what I am talking about this evening.

*) This extract has been taken from the recording of a lecture by Heinz Weber at the St. Matthäusgemeinde [Congregation of St. Matthew] in Bremen, on the subject of “Die Wiederkunft des Herrn” [“The Second Coming of the Lord”].

Heinz Weber http://www.theo-notizen.de/theo/tn-home.htm



This Discourse is concerned with a lecture by Heinz Weber at the St. Matthäusgemeinde in Bremen on the Second Coming of the Lord. Heinz Weber is a preacher blessed by the Spirit, whose lectures I enjoyed listening to when I was younger, deriving much profit from them. He here engages with various scriptural passages, and presents his view of a pretribulationist Rapture (Rapture occurring before the Great Tribulation). I do not want my commentary to give the impression that I disagree profoundly with Mr Weber, for in fact I concur with almost all his views. It is just a matter of a few assertions that he makes - highly important ones for the congregation nonetheless. When we examine the actual passages of Scripture given below, a totally different picture results - as the reader is able to see for himself.

In particular I would like to examine this statement of Mr Weber’s -

“According to the Bible there is no event which has to occur before Jesus comes again for his congregation. - There are many events that have to occur before Jesus comes again to set up his royal dominion on earth, before the start of the Millennial Kingdom.”

- in the light of Scripture, with a view to testing its validity. But first of all let me quote the well-known biblical commentator Werner de Boor, who writes as follows on this subject in his book “Die Briefe des Paulus an die Thessalonicher” [“The Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians”], which forms part of the Wuppertal Study Bible (p. 131):

“The opinion is frequently heard that the Parousia (Second Coming) will take place in complete independence of Jesus’ coming to take dominion of the world, so it can take place at any moment, even if there is still much that has to happen and possibly a good deal of time to pass before the revelation of Jesus to the world. But this opinion is not supported by the two Epistles to the Thessalonians - least of all by the passage with which we are here concerned. (2The 2,1-11)


We will examine the text of 2The 2,1-11 in detail later on. But let us first of all concentrate on those scriptural passages that give us the fullest account of these events of the Last Days. As was to be expected, we here hit upon chapter 24 of the Gospel according to Matthew, with the question whether in this eschatological discourse to the apostles the Lord is referring to the Christian faithful, that is to say, the congregation of the Last Days, or to the Jews of the faith of Moses who will be living at that time.

This passage in Mt 24 has parallels in the Gospel of Luke; and on this basis we can already give a first answer to Mr Weber’s assertion, quoted above, that “According to the Bible there is no preliminary event that has to happen before the Rapture occurs”:

For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them.

Lk 21,8And He said, "See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them.

21,9 "When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately." 21,10 Then He continued by saying to them, "Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, 21,11 and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

21,12 "But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. Lk 21, 8-12;


Quite irrespective of whether we picture the Second Coming of the Lord as happening before or after the Great Tribulation, these statements of the Lord’s make one thing perfectly plain: all the events prophesied in the passage above will happen before the Lord’s return. In particular, impostors will come and say “Behold, I am the Christ that has returned!” Obviously if the Lord had already come at this point, they would not be able to make such a claim. And the Lord specifically warns us against such people, urging us, “Do not go after them”. So if a preacher tells the congregation that “According to the Bible there is no preliminary event that has to happen before the Rapture occurs”, he is going against these same warnings of the Lord’s, of which - as we will see below - there are a great many more, and so bringing the congregation into extreme danger.

(See also Discourse 49: “The elect of Mt 24,31: Christian congregation of the Last Days or Israelites?“.)

But let us look in more detail at what Mr Weber has to say:



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Does the expression “the Great Tribulation” only occur in the Old Testament? / Lecture HW 1982-11-02*))

And incidentally this expression, “the Great Tribulation”, only occurs in the Old Testament, in connection with prophecies relating to the people of Israel. In other words, the time with which we are here concerned (Mt 24 - the Last Days / FH) has nothing whatever to do with the congregation. Anyone who sets out to expound the Old Testament will not find the congregation there, he will only find the people of Israel. And anyone who reads the New Testament Epistles will find nothing there about the Great Tribulation, except perhaps the introduction to the Great Tribulation.

*) This extract has been taken from the recording of a lecture by Heinz Weber at the St. Matthäusgemeinde [Congregation of St. Matthew] in Bremen, on the subject of “Die Wiederkunft des Herrn” [“The Second Coming of the Lord”].

Heinz Weber http://www.theo-notizen.de/theo/tn-home.htm



This statement is simply untrue! Not only is it the case that we do indeed find the expression “the Great Tribulation” in the New Testament - as will be shown below; what is more, these same New Testament Epistles provide us with unmistakable evidence in refutation of the entire theory that the Rapture of the congregation occurs before the Great Tribulation. In Paul’s second Epistle to the Thessalonians we find a quite specific statement about the Great Tribulation (the apostasy), with corresponding implications for the time of the Second Coming of the Lord.

Evidently there were false teachers among the Thessalonians who tried to convince the brethren - apparently even on the basis of forged letters supposedly coming from Paul - that the Day of the Second Coming of the Lord, of which Paul had told them in his first Epistle (1The 4,13-18), had already taken place. We can imagine the consternation of the brethren if they supposed that the Rapture had already happened, and they had not been involved in it. But even if we interpret the passage as referring to the imminence of that Day, we can imagine that some of the Thessalonians had dissolved all earthly ties in expectation of the Rapture soon occurring, so that they only now waited for the Coming of the Lord.

And Paul now writes to them in the following words. The message is reassuring, but above all it puts them right:

For that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed.

2The 2,1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2,2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 2,3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 2,4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 2,5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 2The 2, 1- 5;


When he speaks of the “apostasis”, Paul plainly means the apostasy from God brought about by the Antichrist in the Great Tribulation. The same term is used by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews in Heb 3,12.

Do not fall away from the living God.

Hbr 3,12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart in apostasy from the living God. Heb 3,12;


The Lord also warns us of “lawlessness” in his eschatological discourse (Mt 24,13), and adds, “the one who endures to the end” - that is, the one who survives this time of lawlessness, the Great Tribulation - “he will be saved”, through being caught up in the Rapture on the Second Coming of the Lord.

Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.

Mt 24,9 "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 24,10 "At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 24,11 "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 24,12 "Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 24,13 "But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. Mt 24, 9-13;


So as Paul writes in the above passage (2The 2,3), the Day of the Second Coming of the Lord, together with the Rapture and the gathering of the faithful to him, will not take place until the lawless one - the Antichrist - has come, and with him the apostasy of the Great Tribulation. And this constitutes a plain biblical demonstration that the Antichrist and the Great Tribulation must come first - the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture will only follow after the Great Tribulation.

But as if this were not already enough, Paul then adds a further statement which reduces all arguments with reference to the Rapture’s occurring before the Great Tribulation to absurdity. He says here that the Lord Jesus will annihilate the Antichrist (the lawless one) when he comes again for the Rapture, to reunite us to himself. If the Antichrist is going to be annihilated on the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus at the time of the Rapture of the faithful, it necessarily follows that this same Antichrist must have existed before, and must have exercised dominion at the same time as the raptured congregation. And this again implies that the Great Tribulation occurs before the Second Coming of the Lord, and so that the Rapture only takes place after the Great Tribulation.

Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;

2The 2,6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 2,7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 2,8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 2,9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 2,10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 2,11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 2,12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. 2The 2, 6-12;



Paul confirms this sequence of the events of the Last Days, in the following order:

-  First of all the apostasy (the Great Tribulation) must come, and the lawless one (the Antichrist) be revealed (2The 2,3)

-  There then follows the appearance (the Second Coming) of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and our rejoining him in the Rapture (2The 2,1)

-  and on this same appearance, the Lord will annihilate the lawless one (the Antichrist) with the breath of his mouth (2The 2,8).


It really can hardly be put in more precise terms than Paul has done here, so as to make it plain to the brethren that the Lord Jesus will come for the Rapture of the congregation of the Last Days only after the Great Tribulation and the appearance of the Antichrist, and that on this occasion he will annihilate the latter. And this is now a perfectly plain demonstration, based on Scripture, that the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture will only occur after the Great Tribulation.


In spite of Mr Weber’s assertion quoted above, that “this expression, ‘the Great Tribulation’, only occurs in the Old Testament”, we have two other quite specific New Testament statements about the Great Tribulation. First there is the Lord’s statement in Mt 24,21 that there will be a Great Tribulation such as has never been before nor ever will be again.

For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now.

Mt 24, 21 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 24,22 "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Mt 24,21-22;


And then also in Rev 7,14 the elder explains to John that the uncountable multitude in white robes who he has seen come out of the Great Tribulation.

These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation.

Rev 7,13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?" 7,14 I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Rev 7,13-14;


The great multitude in heaven who John sees at this point are thus beyond doubt people who have lost their lives in the Great Tribulation. Now if the Great Tribulation were to occur only in connection with “prophecies relating to the people of Israel”, we might be inclined to think that this great multitude consists only of Jews. As indeed Mr Weber declares:


“Then Jews will be murdered in millions - it will put the Second World War in the shade - murdered in millions in the course of three and a half years, so Scripture says. Scripture speaks of two thirds of the Jews. If there are sixteen million alive today, that would make it over ten million.”


But if we take a look at the passage immediately before this, Rev 7,9, where John sees this great multitude for the first time, the Bible tells us something quite different:

A great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues.

Rev 7, 9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands. Rev 7, 9;


These people are not Jews, then, but people from every nation and all tribes, peoples and tongues, who have here emerged from the Great Tribulation and now stand before the throne of God. The elder likewise states in an earlier verse (Rev 7,14) that they have

“made their robes white in the blood of the Lamb

- and this leaves no doubt about it: they certainly are not Jews! They are Christians of all nations, who have had their sins forgiven through the “blood of the Lamb” - the redeeming sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross - and now stand before the throne and before the Lamb.

So we find here an uncountable multitude of Christians from all nations, who after the Rapture are standing in heaven before the throne of God and before the Lamb, Our Lord Jesus Christ. And according to Rev 7,14 they have come out of the Great Tribulation - the same Great Tribulation that the Lord prophesies in Mt 24,21. It is plain to be seen that these two New Testament passages are in themselves enough to provide an unambiguous refutation both of the view that the Rapture takes place before the Great Tribulation, and of the supposition that the Tribulation occurs only in connection with “prophecies relating to the people of Israel” and so only applies to the Jews.

While this Great Tribulation is also, and specifically, an affliction for the faithful, it cannot however be referred to the faithful exclusively. In Dan 12,1-2 we find a clear parallel to Mt 24,21. In both passages, the Old Testament and the New Testament one, this Great Tribulation is described as a time of affliction such as there has never been since the beginning of the world. And whatever ghastly horror scenarios we imagine when we try to picture the persecution of the faithful, we will not find any gruesome acts that have not already been perpetrated by human beings on other human beings in the course of world history.

The people of Israel, in particular, has in the past had to bear all the suffering that human beings can mutually inflict. Just think of the torture of Jewish believers under Antiochus Epiphanes, as described in the books of Maccabees (e.g. 2Mac 7,1-42), the capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders, antisemitic pogroms throughout European history or the crimes against the Jews in our own day, under Hitler - to take just a few examples.

But the affliction of Christians too, starting with the persecution of Christians under the Roman empire and continuing through the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic church to the Counter-Reformation, has already included every form of torment imaginable - with people being torn apart by wild beasts, “put to the question” under torture or burned at the stake.

Torment inflicted on individuals, or on an entire people, can “only” go as far as death. And just that is what has occurred, all too often, in world history. This raising to a higher power, then - “such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now” - cannot be imagined as having to do just with persecution. Consequently this Great Tribulation must have a dimension completely different from that pictured by some commentators.

Alongside the persecution of Christians, then, the Great Tribulation is not restricted to isolated ethnic groups, but is a worldwide event. And the victims do not just amount to millions, as Mr Weber supposes in the above passage; rather - on the evidence of Rev 6,7-8 - they run into the billions.

(See also Table 14: “The Revelation - classified by events.”).

But let us see what else Mr Weber has to say:


(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Does Matthew 24 not speak of the Great Tribulation? / Lecture HW 1982-11-02*))

Let us consider further arguments for those who know their Bible. Some people claim that Matthew 24 does refer to the Great Tribulation and does say that the congregation must come through the Great Tribulation. You can study Mt 24 carefully, but you will find it hard to identify a mention of the congregation in some passages.

When we are told, for instance, “When these things start to happen, then flee to the mountains of Judea” and so on, this has nothing at all to do with the congregation. I haven’t built a holiday home on the mountains of Judea which I can escape to when these things start to happen. We must be very cautious here - if we take the one point literally, we must take the other literally as well.

*) This extract has been taken from the recording of a lecture by Heinz Weber at the St. Matthäusgemeinde [Congregation of St. Matthew] in Bremen, on the subject of “Die Wiederkunft des Herrn” [“The Second Coming of the Lord”].

Heinz Weber http://www.theo-notizen.de/theo/tn-home.htm



As we have just seen, it is not just Mt 24 that speaks of the Great Tribulation - we have a further reference, of particular significance, in Rev 7,14. And both passages confirm that the faithful have come through the Great Tribulation. To answer the question, now, to what extent the events prophesied by the Lord in Mt 24 relate to Jews or to Christians, let us take a look at the various relevant texts.

(See also Discourse 68: “Do Matthew 24 and 25 not have any reference to the congregation?”)

Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming?

Mt 24, 3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age? Mt 24, 3;


Here, at the start of this eschatological discourse by the Lord, the disciples ask him what will be the sign of his coming or Second Coming. Mr Weber comments on this as follows:

“Here we must make a distinction - are we thinking of the Coming of the Lord Jesus for his congregation, or of the coming of the Lord Jesus to set up the Millennial Kingdom?”


And seeing that Mr Weber allocates Mt 24 to the Jews, he clearly thinks that the question about the sign of the Lord’s coming in the above passage (Mt 24,3) does not refer to the Second Coming of the Lord for the congregation but rather to the setting up of the Millennial Kingdom for the Jews. Paul however takes a different view of the matter, when he writes to the Thessalonians that on the coming of the Lord the dead in Christ will rise, not the Jews. This makes this coming quite plainly the Second Coming of the Lord for the Rapture of the faithful:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven and we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.

1The 4,15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 4,16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 4,17 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. 1The 4,15-17;


Paul here tells us that on the coming, or Second Coming, of the Lord the Rapture will take place. But as in scriptural terms - and indeed in logical terms - there can only be one Second Coming of the Lord, Mt 24 can then only refer to this Second Coming of the Lord for the Rapture of Christians, both those who are dead and those who are living in the Last Days.

Other statements made by the Lord in Mt 24 also militate against the “Jewish theory”:

You will be hated by all nations because of My name.

Mt 24,9 "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. Mt 24, 9;


Seeing that the Lord is here speaking to his disciples, who after all are Jews, the content of the first half of the sentence - “then they will deliver you to tribulation” - could perhaps encourage the supposition that the fate of Israel actually is what it is about. But then we would have to ask, first of all, why the Lord should here be focusing exclusively on the Jews, who rejected and refused to acknowledge him, in a passage that contains the most important prophecies and warnings for the Christian faithful of the Last Days; and then too, the second half of the sentence immediately offers proof that the contrary is in fact the case - “you will be hated by all nations because of My name”. Only Christians, after all, can be hated because of the name of the Lord, the name of Christ - not Jews, who never accepted Christ in the first place. And the Lord gives us further confirmation of this in Jn 15,18-23:

But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.

Jn 15, 18 "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 15,19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 15,20 "Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 15,21 "But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. 15,22 "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 15,23 "He who hates Me hates My Father also. Jn 15,18-23;


The statement in the last verse above (Jn 15,23), “he who hates me hates my Father also”, now also confirms the view that these same Jews, who hated Jesus Christ and still do hate him as an impostor and a blasphemer, thus hate God at the same time. This is mentioned on frequent occasions by the Lord, together with the consequent impossibility of the Jews having any contact with their God and ours.

But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

Mt 10, 32 "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 10,33 "But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Mt 10,32-33;


As long ago as that, the Jews could not accept that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and had been sent by the Father:

So they were saying to Him, "Where is Your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither Me nor My Father";

Jn 8,19 So they were saying to Him, "Where is Your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also." 8,20 These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come. Jn 8,19-20;


This confrontation between Our Lord and the Jews, and the background for their rejection of him, is also clearly illuminated for us in the Gospel of John:

You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.

Jn 8,37 "I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 8,38 "I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father." 8,39 They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. 8,40 "But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. 8,41 "You are doing the deeds of your father." They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God."

8,42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. 8,43 "Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 8,44"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Jn 8,37-44;


But there are plenty more statements made by the Lord which show that it is the Christians, not the Jews, who are his true followers, and are entrusted with the task of promulgating his Word in the world until he comes again.

This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world.

Mt 24,14 "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. 24,15 "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 24,16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. Mt 24,14-16;


Here we are told of the “gospel of the kingdom”. The term “kingdom” is a reference to the royal rule of God in its three dimensions: first the spiritual dimension, the rule of the Holy Spirit up to the Second Coming of the Lord; then the material/earthly dimension, in the rule of the Lord Jesus in the Millennial Kingdom of Peace on earth; and finally the heavenly dimension, the royal rule of the Father in eternity, when the Son has abolished all earthly rule, power and authority and has handed the kingdom over to the Father.

(See also Discourse 66: “The three dimensions of the royal rule of God.”).

Now it is perfectly correct that that part of the “gospel of the kingdom” which relates to thousand years of world dominion by the Messiah on earth is a promise specially directed to the Jews. Only we must be aware that this same people of Israel has refused to accept the gospel of the kingdom of God to date. The question also suggests itself why this gospel should be a testimony to “all nations”, if it only refers to Israel. And in any case it plainly has not been the Jews who have spent practically two millennia preaching this gospel of the kingdom throughout the world - it has been the Christians. And what they have been preaching has been, above all, the spiritual dimension - the spiritual conversion and salvation of humanity, in the love of God which has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Rom 5,5).

And finally the following statement of Our Lord’s in Mt 21,43 gives us to understand that the Jews no longer have anything to do with the kingdom of God, and that it has been taken away from them: .

Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.

Mt 21,43 "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. 21,44 "And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust."

21,45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them. 21,When they sought to seize Him, they feared the people, because they considered Him to be a prophet. Mt 21,43-46;


Since their rejection of the Messiah, and the punishment subsequently visited on them by God through the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by Titus in the year 70 AD and their dispersal throughout the world, the Israelites have no longer had any means whatsoever of contacting their God. Unless they are converted to faith in Jesus Christ (as a result of which they become Christians), from now until the Lord comes again to enter upon his dominion in the Millennial Kingdom of Peace, the Israelites cannot expect that a single word will be addressed to them by God. And as the Lord says in the above passage, the kingdom of God has been given to the people that produces the fruit of it, the people that have accepted and held fast by the Son of God - in other words, the Christians. Consequently the “gospel of the kingdom” is a Christian gospel, and it is likewise Christians who preach this gospel “to the whole world”.

We are told in Mt 24,14, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come”; and this is the answer of the Lord to the question of the disciples about the sign of his coming and the end of the age. Up to this time Christians will have preached the gospel to all the nations, and then will come the end of all human dominion, and the Son of God will enter upon his world rule in the Millennial Kingdom of Peace.

The Lord goes on to speak in Mt 24,30-31 of his Second Coming and the gathering of the elect:

The angels will gather together His elect from the four winds.

Mt 24,30 "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 24,31 "And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Mt 24,30-31;


First of all the Lord here tells us that on his Second Coming he will be visible to all of humanity (all the tribes of the earth). As we are likewise told in the passage immediately preceding (Mt 24,26-27):

For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

Mt 24,26 "So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. 24,27 "For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Mt 24,26-27;


So he is going to appear in the sky, in a form visible to all the people of the world. And his angels will gather his elect from the four winds (all the points of the compass).

Quite apart from all the contradictions to which I have referred already, the idea that these elect mentioned in Mt 24,31 might be the Jews prompts the further question on what basis these Israelites can be “elect”. When their Messiah came to them, they rejected him and handed him over for crucifixion. For almost two thousand years they have refused to acknowledge this act of injustice, let alone show any contrition for it, and their rejection of Christianity has been uncompromising up to the present day. The gospel of the kingdom has been taken away from them and given to the Christians, who have come to believe in the Son of God.

And just this is the reason, as well, why these elect cannot possibly be Israelites. For if we think here of those Israelites who have been converted to faith in the Lord Jesus, in terms of birth they may belong to the people of Israel but in terms of faith they are to be seen as Christians and so as forming part of the congregation. Everything applies to them in the same measure as it applies to all brothers and sisters in the congregation, never mind of what nationality. But if we are to see these Israelites as Jews of the faith of Moses, then it follows from Our Lord’s statement in Jn 14,6-7 that they must be excluded from the events that take place in the Last Days between God and humanity, until the time of their conversion in the Millennium:

No one comes to the Father but through Me.

Jn 14,6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. 14,7 "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." Jn 14, 6- 7;


Seeing that all Jews of the faith of Moses, right up to the present time, brand Jesus Christ as an impostor and blasphemer, and refuse to accept him as their Lord and God (or even recognize him as their Messiah), they have - on the evidence of these statements of the Lord’s (Jn 14,6) - no opportunity of coming to God during the time ensuing from the death and Resurrection of Our Lord until his Second Coming. Only on the Second Coming of the Lord, when they look on him and mourn for him whom they have pierced, will the people of Israel be converted and reconciled with God once more. Then the fate of Israel will be turned around, they will be gathered together by their Messiah and become a world power and the chief of nations in the Millennium (Jer 31,6-7).

They will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son.

Zech 12,10 "I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. Zech 12,10;


And so the references to the “elect” in Mt 24,22 and Mt 24,31 cannot on any account relate to the people of Israel, but must be referred to the congregation of the Last Days.

Moreover, it is actually Paul who refers to the Christians as the “elect” or the “chosen”:

Rom 8,33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; Rom 8,33;

Col 3,12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; Col 3,12;

2Tim 2, 1 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. 2Tim 2,10;

Tit 1,1 Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, Tit 1, 1;


And we also find, in the context of Mt 24,21 (before the gathering of the elect of Mt 24,31 with whom we are concerned here), the Lord’s promise:

For the sake of the elect the great tribulation will be cut short.

Mt 24,21 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 24,22 "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Mt 24,21-22;


But this means that it is these same Christian elect who will be compelled to undergo the Great Tribulation, and who will then be saved through the shortening of the days until the Second Coming of the Lord and their Rapture.

The parallel passage in Luke likewise indicates that the redemption of the Christian faithful of the Last Days from tribulation and persecution is drawing near “when these things begin to take place.”

But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Lk 21,25 "There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 21,26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 21,27 "Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory. 21,28 "But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." Lk 21,25-28;


Directly preceding this passage in Luke, we also find an explanation of the Lord’s injunction (not reproduced in so much detail in Mt 24,16) to those in Judea to flee to the mountains:

The people will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles.

Lk 21,20 "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. 21,21 "Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; 21,22 because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled. 21,23 "Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath to this people; 21,24 and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Lk 21,20-24;


And here it quickly becomes clear that it is not the Jews who are here being urged to save themselves by fleeing into the mountains. For quite apart from the fact that not a single Jew of the faith of Moses would follow this counsel in any case (seeing that the New Testament and the sayings of the Lord in particular are completely unacceptable to them), the Lord’s statement in Lk 21,22 explains that these are “the days of vengeance”, that “all things which are written will be fulfilled” and that there will be “wrath to this people”. So it is actually the Jews, by contrast, who are here being punished by God and led into captivity among the nations by their enemies, and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot. And before this vengeance falls on the Jews, the few Christian believers who at this time are living in Judea are to be saved, in order that they can be caught up in the Rapture with the entire congregation on the coming of the Lord.

(See also Table 05: “Synopsis of the Lords eschatological discourses.”)

One of the prophecies the Lord refers to in the above passage (Lk 21,22), when he indicates that “all things which are written will be fulfilled” may be found in Zech 4,1-2 (and see also Isa 5,25-30, Jer 4, 5-22 etc.):

For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem.

Zech 14,1 Behold, a day is coming for the LORD when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. 14,2 ,For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. Zech 14, 1- 2;


As we can see, this is by no means a word of advice to those who have “built themselves a holiday home on the mountains of Judea”, as Mr Weber puts it - rather, the reference is to the Christian congregation living in Judea in the Last Days, who are urged to flee into the mountains before the final eschatological punishment of Israel by God, with the capture of Jerusalem by the nations and the second dispersion of the population.

(See also Chapter 02: “The conquest and the dispersion of Jerusalem.”)

And when Mr Weber warns us, in this connection, “We must be very cautious here - if we take the one point literally, we must take the other literally as well”, we can agree with him without reserve. As we have seen, all we have to do is to examine a few parallel passages, understanding them in a perfectly literal sense, in order to come at a correct explanation of the passage in question.



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Must Mt 24 mean something different? / Lecture HW 1982-11-02*))

You have also read these figures, in the New Testament you have often come across these figures: 3½ years, 42 months, 1260 days - it’s always the same length of time. How can a God who has said that “You do not know the time or the hour” suddenly give such exact specifications? Here we must make a distinction - are we thinking of the Coming of the Lord Jesus for his congregation, or of the coming of the Lord Jesus to set up the Millennial Kingdom? (...)

So Mt 24 must mean something different. And these people also know of course, what I am saying to you now, then I can actually work out when the Lord is going to come again. Then they say - But it’s written that for the sake of the elect the time will be shortened, so I can’t work it out after all. This doesn’t make a scrap of difference now, 3½ years is enough as far as I’m concerned for me to work out when the Lord is coming.

*) This extract has been taken from the recording of a lecture by Heinz Weber at the St. Matthäusgemeinde [Congregation of St. Matthew] in Bremen, on the subject of “Die Wiederkunft des Herrn” [“The Second Coming of the Lord”].

Heinz Weber http://www.theo-notizen.de/theo/tn-home.htm



Although Mr Weber later on declares “I don’t want to use scriptural passages as a basis for argument”, here he actually does for once quote Scripture. Indeed he even quotes “God, who has said that ‘you do not know the time or the hour’”. And if this were indeed a “statement made by God”, as Mr Weber describes it, then this would indeed mean that we are not in a position to formulate any kind of temporal specifications with reference to the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture - neither the year nor the month, and most certainly not the day or the hour.

But when we check this point in the light of Scripture, we discover that the above statement is incorrect. Not the statement of God, of course, but that made by Brother Weber. First of all his scriptural quotation, “you do not know either the time or the hour” is not to be found in any biblical translation or in the original Greek. In all such scriptural passages the word used is not “time” (Greek “chronos/kairos”) but “day” (Greek “hemera”).

Mt 24,36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Mt 24,36;

Mt 24,50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, Mt 24,50;

Mt 25,13 "Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. Mt 25,13;

Mk 13,32 "But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Mk 13,32;


The difference between the two formulations amounts to a quite significant difference. Whereas the statement that “you do not know the time” would exclude categorically any kind of temporal specification, whether in terms of years or of months, with the contrasting statement that “you do not know the day” the impossibility of temporal attribution is restricted to just one single day. Consequently these repeated sayings of the Lord’s that “you do not know either the day or the hour” must be understood quite literally, as meaning just what they say: we do not know either the day or the hour. And this means that while according to Scripture we may not know the day or the hour, it is perfectly possible for us to know the year and the month. Here too Mr Weber’s wise words apply - “If we take the one point (the hour) literally, we must take the other (the day) literally as well” - and not reinterpret it as “time” instead.

And for those brethren, consequently, who will be living in this time of affliction, the Lord has given a quite particular indication that they will be able to recognize when the Lord is coming - perhaps not to the exact day and the hour, but in a time frame of a few months. And in Mt 24,32-34 he even advises us to reflect just along these lines:

So you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near.

Mt 24,32 "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; 24,33 so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 24,34 "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Mt 24,32-34;


Here we must indicate, by way of explanation, that the argument advanced by some commentators that this fig tree in Mt 24,32 refers to Israel and the foundation of the Israeli state in the year 1948 represents an attempt to “judaize” this statement, which in view of the entire context is undoubtedly meant to be literally understood. The attempt can however be patently refuted on the evidence of the parallel passage in Luke:

Then He told them a parable: "Behold the fig tree and all the trees.

Lk 21,29 Then He told them a parable: "Behold the fig tree and all the trees; 21,30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 21,31 "So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 21,32 "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. 21,33 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. Lk 21,29-33;


The formulation in Lk 21,29, “Behold the fig tree and all the trees”, is a proof that we do not have to do here with a prophecy about Israel (who could the other “trees” possibly be?), but purely and simply with a comparison, which Our Lord urges us to reflect on. Just as we can recognize from the appearance of leaves on the trees in spring that the summer is near (in two to three months, that is), so too when we observe world events in the Last Days, we will be able to recognize when the events that have been prophesied occur that the Second Coming of the Lord and our salvation in the Rapture are near.


(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Do the faithful who come out of the Great Tribulation not have anything to do with the congregation? / Lecture HW 1982-11-02*))

No. In the Great Tribulation, as Rev 13 tells us, those who have become Christians are killed, they have no chance of life. The Antichrist kills them all. Rev 13 indicates a fearful time of persecution of Christians. Anyone who does not worship the beast will be done away with. There will be believers at this time, and there will be many who will come to belief at this time, but they have nothing to do with the congregation. Study now takes us too far, we can read about this in Revelation, these groups are actually mentioned separately there - as the congregation and the martyrs who come out of the Great Tribulation.

*) This extract has been taken from the recording of a lecture by Heinz Weber at the St. Matthäusgemeinde [Congregation of St. Matthew] in Bremen, on the subject of “Die Wiederkunft des Herrn” [“The Second Coming of the Lord”].

Heinz Weber http://www.theo-notizen.de/theo/tn-home.htm



The argument that these people who live and die in the Great Tribulation are Christian believers who only come to Christian belief in this same Great Tribulation - supposedly after the Rapture of the congregation before the tribulation starts - is completely bereft of logic. If this period is indeed the very worst tribulation of all time for Christian believers, when they will be hated, persecuted and killed by all, the statement that people will be flocking to become Christians under these circumstances has as much to do with reality as would the assertion that under the Nazi tyranny there were millions of Germans converting to Judaism.

And when Mr Weber, speaking of the time of the Great Tribulation, observes that “there will be believers at this time, and there will be many who will come to belief at this time, but they have nothing to do with the congregation”, then we have to ask what kind of belief these people are supposed to have arrived at? If they have come to faith in Jesus Christ, then the assertion that they “have nothing to do with the congregation” must be strictly repudiated. Every individual who comes to believe in the Son of God - whenever, in the course of his life, he comes to believe - is saved and so automatically becomes a member of the congregation of all time. Those who do not believe in the Son indeed have nothing to do with the congregation - but neither are they Christian believers.

But if we now look at the passage (Rev 7,13-14) that relates to the uncountable multitude who come out of the Great Tribulation, we can recognize a quite different aspect:

These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have made white their robes in the blood of the Lamb.

Rev 7,13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?" 7,14 I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Rev 7,13-14;


As the elder explains to John, these Christian believers who come out of the Great Tribulation are here standing in heaven before the throne of God because they have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb”. This means that they have taken advantage of the redeeming sacrifice of Our Lord on the cross for their sins. As a result, they are now purified and free of sin - their robes are white.

It follows from this argument that these Christian believers who come out of the Great Tribulation - even if, and especially if they are all taken to have been killed during this period - must be people who were already alive before the onset of the Great Tribulation. And then we are of course faced with the question, supposing there has been a Rapture before the Great Tribulation, why these Christian believers should not have been caught up in the Rapture on that occasion. If on the other hand we would like to claim that these Christians have been converted to the faith during the Great Tribulation and so would not have been raptured at an earlier stage, and if we agree, as does Mr Weber, with the scriptural statement given us in Revelation that they are now to be found in heaven, then we have to deal with the question when and how these murdered Christians who come out of the Great Tribulation have ended up there. They must, after all, have been raised from the dead and caught up into heaven in the Rapture. Scripture, however, does not allow for a second Rapture.

Finally, the assertion that after the Second Coming of the Lord, which will be visible to the whole of humanity, there will be “many who will come to belief” is self-contradictory. After the Second Coming of the Lord the time of “belief” in the Son of God is over, and the time of seeing - and of the Wrath of God - begins. .



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Is it wrong to use biblical passages as a basis for argument? / Lecture HW 1982-11-02*))

I do not want to use biblical passages as a basis for argument, as I know very well that any biblical passage lends itself to manipulation. I just want to give you one question to think about, and that will be quite sufficient to answer the question of the time of the Rapture.

You only need to focus on the building of the temple: neither Paul, James or John could ever say, Look, boys and girls, the end is at hand etc., knowing very well that after all the Antichrist is demanding divine worship in the Temple, to push this Great Tribulation to its climax. In other words, the interpretation “subsequently raptured” (i.e. after the Great Tribulation / FH) could not happen today. And that is an unbiblical interpretation

Anyone who says that the Lord cannot possibly return today is placing himself beyond the pale of the biblical message. The biblical message tells us that the Lord can return today. There isn’t anything else that has to happen first. And it is the just the same with those - who are a small minority - who teach that the Rapture takes place in the middle of the Great Tribulation. Here too I know when the Lord is going to come again, because at least the temple must have been built, even if it is not yet functional. In other words, on the basis of Scripture we come to the conviction that the Rapture must take place before the Great Tribulation.

*) This extract has been taken from the recording of a lecture by Heinz Weber at the St. Matthäusgemeinde [Congregation of St. Matthew] in Bremen, on the subject of “Die Wiederkunft des Herrn” [“The Second Coming of the Lord”].

Heinz Weber http://www.theo-notizen.de/theo/tn-home.htm



It is most surprising that Mr Weber claims to have come to his view “on the basis of Scripture”, when just a moment before he has stated:

“I do not want to use biblical passages as a basis for argument, as I know very well that any biblical passage lends itself to manipulation.”


Anyone who “does not want to use biblical passages as a basis for argument” loses any kind of basis in biblical authority, and so is automatically placing his own interpretation higher than Scripture’s interpretation of itself. Who or what gives us any guarantee that Scripture will not be manipulated just as a result of leaving biblical passages out of account - perhaps just in order to justify a person’s pet theory of the Rapture? And couldn’t that perhaps be the reason for this reluctance to quote scriptural passages - because a person might then be compelled to admit, on scriptural grounds, that he had got the wrong end of the stick? Just as when buying a car you would be reluctant to put money in the hands of a salesman who refuses to give you the car’s documents, so in scriptural interpretation you would be disinclined to trust the commentator who refuses to point to the biblical passages on which his interpretation is based. If you are unable to defend your theology by really examining it in the light of Scripture, then you must have recourse to a different method - that of personal influence, say. If you are not able to sit down with an open Bible and make a serious effort to learn and to teach, then the only refuge remaining to you is irritation and insult.

So when Mr Weber opines that all who do not share his view of the time of the Second Coming are “beyond the pale of the biblical message”, then we have to point out to him that a biblical message is just what it is not, if you are unwilling (for whatever reason) to give scriptural references. Following the time-honored principle of serious biblical commentary, according to which Scripture must always be interpreted through Scripture and constitutes its own interpretation, the scriptural references are a demonstration of the way in which I as a commentator have arrived at my conclusions, and show that I have not been influenced by any private opinions. Then my hearers or readers are equally well able to examine the logic of my argument and form an impression as to whether my statements are in agreement with Scripture, and whether I have manipulated the sense or not. Anyone who declines to do so invites the imputation of frivolity and the suspicion that he is himself indulging in manipulation.

If Mr Weber were to quote Scripture in his discussion of the time of the Second Coming of the Lord, he would have, for instance, to bring up Paul’s statement in his second Epistle to the Thessalonians. As we have seen, Paul here refers to the Second Coming, and in particular to the things that must happen first.

The coming of our Lord and the Rapture will not come unless the apostasy comes first.

2The 2,1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2,2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 2,3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 2,4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 2The 2, 1- 4;

The Lord Jesus will destroy the lawless one by his appearing and his coming.

2The 2,5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you this? 2,6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 2,7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 2,8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by his appearing and his coming. 2,9 The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, 2,10 and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 2,11 Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, 2The 2, 5-11;


So first of all the apostasy - the Great Tribulation - must come (see also Heb 3,12), and the lawless one must be revealed. Only then will the Day of the Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ dawn, when the Lord will slay this lawless one, the Antichrist, with the breath of his mouth. And if the Lord is to annihilate the Antichrist when he comes again for the Rapture of his faithful, then both the Antichrist and also the faithful, that is to say, the Christian congregation of the Last Days, must of necessity have reigned or lived at an earlier stage, before the Second Coming and the Rapture. This is a plain demonstration of the fact that the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture take place after the Great Tribulation and after the dominion of the Antichrist.



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Will the congregation reign on earth? / Lecture HW 1982-11-02*))

The time of the congregation is finished with the Rapture. On the earth the Great Tribulation takes place, and the Lord is in heaven with his faithful for the judgment of reward and the marriage feast of the Lamb, to come again later with his followers for the Millennial Kingdom, as we will all of course reign on earth, as his congregation - reign together with him, for a thousand years.

*) This extract has been taken from the recording of a lecture by Heinz Weber at the St. Matthäusgemeinde [Congregation of St. Matthew] in Bremen, on the subject of “Die Wiederkunft des Herrn” [“The Second Coming of the Lord”].

Heinz Weber http://www.theo-notizen.de/theo/tn-home.htm



The idea that the congregation will reign with the Lord in the Millennial Kingdom results from a misinterpretation of Rev 5,9-10 and 20,4-6.

You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.

Rev 5,9 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 5,10 "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth." Rev 5,9-10;

They will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Rev 20,4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 20,5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 20,6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. Rev 20, 4- 6


(See also Chapter 12: “The Resurrection.” / Raising from the dead and Resurrection, The First Resurrection.)

We are told here that the entire congregation, after the Rapture, will reign with Christ on earth as priests and kings. Now these statements in Rev 5,9-10 plainly relate to the same group of persons as Rev 20,4. And this passage - if a person takes the trouble to refer to it! - gives us to understand something quite different: namely, that it is not the congregation of all time who here come to life and reign with Christ, but rather those who have been beheaded - that is to say, the martyrs “from every tribe and tongue and people and nation”, both from Old Testament and from New Testament times, who have been persecuted and killed because of their faith.

Why, specifically, it should be the martyrs of all times and nations who are chosen to rule with the Lord Jesus in the Millennial Kingdom is plain to see, if we consider the relevant Old Testament texts with a view to elucidating this question. So in Ex 19,4-6 and Isa 61,5-6, for instance, we find two statements that are almost identical.

And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Ex 19,4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. 19,5 ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 19,6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel." Ex 19, 4- 6;

But you will be called the priests of the LORD; You will be spoken of as ministers of our God.

Isa 61,5 Strangers will stand and pasture your flocks, And foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers. 61,6 But you will be called the priests of the LORD; You will be spoken of as ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, And in their riches you will boast. Isa 61, 5- 6;


Of course we can infer from the context of these two Old Testament passages that the prophecies are not to be applied to the Christian congregation but are promises of priestly dominion addressed to the people of Israel. So if we want to relate the prophecies in Revelation exclusively to the congregation, it follows that these Old Testament passages must be wrong. But seeing that Our Lord says in Mt 5,17, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill”, and the “Law” (that is, the Torah, the five books of Moses) contains precisely the above promise from Ex 19,6, the passages cannot be at fault.

The solution of this apparent contradiction results - as so often in Scripture - from an examination of the context. The promise to the people of Israel in Ex 19,6, “and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”, is subject to the condition set by the preceding verse - “if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant”. This precondition has been observed by the people of Israel, taken all in all, as little as it has been observed by the entire Christian congregation of all time. Everyone however who has met this condition may have recourse to this promise of God - both of the people of Israel, and of the congregation of all time.

And this entitlement now applies, irrespective of any kind of nationality, only to one group of people - to those faithful both of Old Testament and New Testament times who have been persecuted and killed because of their faith in the one and only God and his Son Jesus Christ. These then are the martyrs of all times and all nations - whether of Israel or of the congregation - who have been promised the privilege by God of ruling over the earth in the Millennium. They are God’s own possession, they are this kingdom of priests who will come to life in the First Resurrection and reign with Christ in his Millennial Kingdom of Peace..

The view represented above that Rev 20,6 refers to the entire congregation - including all those brethren who have died a natural death, without having been persecuted for their faith - and that the entire congregation will reign with the Lord as kings and priests entails the additional problem that there would then be hundreds of millions of priests and kings ruling on earth at the same time. Even if we can perhaps countenance the idea of such a multitude of priests, hundreds of millions of kings would just be too much for this planet. There will hardly be enough countries in the Millennium to accommodate so many ruling kings.

This incorrect view of things is certainly very widespread, and it is a consequence of the following incorrect attitudes which are disseminated in some congregations:

o  It is not enough for us to be “merely” saved: we want to rule and exercise authority.

o  Those statements in Rev 1 which speak of those who are killed under the dominion of the Antichrist are taken altogether seriously and confirmed: “they have no chance of life. The Antichrist kills them all.”

o  But when we find a mention of those who have been beheaded in Rev 20,4, then we generously relate this to ourselves and take our stand, free of charge, in the ranks of those who have suffered and died for the sake of their faith.

o  As for the fact that we ourselves are by no means living in want, and certainly are not forced to lay down our lives for our faith, this can then apparently be put down to the “broad spectrum of symbolic inexactitudes”.


But let us look at the matter from a different angle. The last sentence in Mr Weber’s argument above brings a certain suspicion to mind. He says:

“as we will all of course reign on earth, as his congregation - reign together with him, for a thousand years.


This suggests that he imagines that reigning in the Millennial Kingdom must be the object of the heart’s desire of every faithful Christian. Is this really the case? If we think so, then we have not reflected sufficiently on the life of heaven. Paul said long ago, in his Epistle to the Philippians, that our citizenship - our homeland, as Mr Weber puts it - is in heaven and not on earth:

For our citizenship is in heaven.

Phil 3,20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 3,21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. Phil 3,20-21;


And doesn’t the Lord Jesus also speak of the many dwelling places in his Father’s house?

In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; I go to prepare a place for you.

Jn 14,1 "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 14,2 "In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 14,3 "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 14,4 "And you know the way where I am going." Jn 14, 1- 4;


This house of the Father is definitely not the Millennial Kingdom! It is heaven, the throne room of God. And the joy and bliss of the faithful in heaven, when they can praise and glorify God to their hearts’ content, will exceed all the conceivable sensations of happiness that could ever be open to people living on earth in the Millennium - even if there too the dominion of the Lord Jesus will be a guarantee of justice and peace. There just is no question who will be closer to the Lord, who will himself after all be both with his Father in heaven and present on earth, when we compare the situation of people living on earth in the Millennium and that of the saints in heaven.

So anyone who is afraid here of drawing the short straw is making a big mistake. The true existence of the believing Christian is with God the Father and the Son in heaven, and nowhere else. Those martyrs who are here evidently the object of envy because they have taken part in the First Resurrection, and so are entitled to rule in the Millennium, will of course likewise exist both in heaven and on earth, in the resurrected body. But their time in heaven will be limited, because they will have obligations on earth that they have to see to. People for whom the highest imaginable happiness is to be in close proximity to the Father will see this as a sacrifice.

(See also Discourse 07: “The Rapture and the First Resurrection: a single event?”)



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Is it possible that the Lord may come today, now, tomorrow? / Lecture HW 1982-11-02*))

As soon as we find ourselves able to assent to this sketch, we will find a whole lot of points can easily be resolved that earlier on were causing us headaches. Now it is really the case, now no one can work out the timing, now the Lord Jesus may return this very evening and there will still be time to build the temple. If the congregation in Bremen could put up a school in the space of one year, then the Jews ill be able to erect their temple in the space of three and a half years, I think we can give them that. In other words, no one can say when the Lord is going to return. Now all these verses are correct that are on the lines - The time is near, watch, you do not know the hour of your Lord’s return. He may come today, he may come tomorrow. Right now we are exposed to this direct and constant expectation of the Second Coming of the Lord, and that is just what the biblical message demands of us.

*) This extract has been taken from the recording of a lecture by Heinz Weber at the St. Matthäusgemeinde [Congregation of St. Matthew] in Bremen, on the subject of “Die Wiederkunft des Herrn” [“The Second Coming of the Lord”].

Heinz Weber http://www.theo-notizen.de/theo/tn-home.htm



Here we recognize the central plank in the message of Mr Weber: the congregation must expect the Second Coming of the Lord any day. While this attitude may be understandable on pedagogical grounds, and while it may be a very clever attitude, it is all the same not biblical. And the endeavor to uphold this principle at all costs has influenced all the biblical commentary included in this sermon. It becomes a dogma to which everything else must be subordinated - even if Scripture tells us the exact opposite.

So the Great Tribulation, for instance, has nothing to do with the congregation, and is understood as “prophecy directed to Israel”, because otherwise it would present a difficulty for this dogma. The Second Coming of the Lord, which according to Paul in 2Thess 2:1-9 will happen after the Great Tribulation and the revelation of the Antichrist, must take place, along with the Rapture, before these events, otherwise we would be able to “work out” some kind of temporal result, which would mean this dogma could no longer be maintained.

But the result is that Christian brothers and sisters are encouraged to suppose that the Rapture is at the very gates, so that they do not need to anticipate either tribulation or temptation. And as with the Thessalonians of Paul’s day, there is also a danger here that some of the brethren, in expectation of the Rapture’s being imminent, may dissolve all earthly ties and just wait for the Lord’s arrival. But this erroneous supposition that they are exempt from trials and tribulations puts these brethren in terrible danger. So we must say to them, in Paul’s words:

“Let no one in any way deceive you, for that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.”

Rather as with the doctrine of absolute certainty of salvation - that is, the idea that a believing Christian cannot ever fall away and be lost - this thesis of the imminent Second Coming of the Lord thus actually has the opposite effect from that which it is supposed to. Rather than strengthening the loyalty and constancy of Christians, it gives them a conviction that they are in some sense “immune”. The watchfulness of the faithful is thereby lulled asleep and prayer is neglected, so that they will be quite uncritically vulnerable to trials and temptations, and exposed to all the currents of the contemporary culture without the least notion of it. So in both cases the brethren are being seduced into a sense of security which Scripture tells us does not exist in reality, and cannot possibly exist.

(See also Discourse 69: “Predestination and the chosen.”)

Mr Weber’s advice, then, that we no longer need to pay any attention to world events, because for the faithful no further relevant events can be expected to occur between now and the Second Coming of the Lord, completely ignores the fact that the Lord’s teaching is the exact opposite! In Mt 24,32 - and it makes no difference now whether we take the view that the Mt 24 applies to the Jews or to the Christians - the Lord tells us that we should observe the events taking place in the world, and compare them with those events that are prophesied to us as the “beginning of birth pangs”.

But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

Mt 24,4 And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you. 24,5 "For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.

24,6 "You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 24,7 "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.

24,8 "But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Mt 24, 4- 8;


The following events worldwide, then, are indicators of the beginning of the Last Days, before the Second Coming of the Lord:

-  Many impostors will come claiming to be the Christ (Mt 24,5).

-  There will be wars and rumors of wars (Mt 24,6).

-  Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom (Mt 24,7).

-  There will be famines and earthquakes in various places (Mt 24,7).


But this is not yet the end - it is only the beginning of birth pangs, as the Lord says in Mt 24,8. Following on these events, the Lord prophesies a difficult time for the faithful. We must hold onto the fact here that the Lord is speaking to the apostles, who have asked him at the start of this chapter what the signs of his coming will be. And then in the next passage (Mt 24,9) the Lord tells them: “Then they will deliver you to affliction/tribulation.” Seeing that the apostles were the first Christians and the founding fathers of Christianity, we must suppose that this “you” refers to the Christians - and not to the Jews, as Mr Weber supposes. Still more when we are told in the same verse, “You will be hated by all nations because of My name.” Only Christians can be hated and killed because of the name of Christ, surely - not Jews.

Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you.

Mt 24,9 "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 24,10 "At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 24,11 "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 24,12 "Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 24,13 "But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 24,14 "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. Mt 24, 9-14;


After the beginning of birth pangs, according to the Lord’s exposition, the following events amongst others must take place before the Lord Jesus comes:

-  Christians will be hated by the whole world, handed over to the authorities and killed (Mt 24,9).

-  There will be many collaborators who will betray them (Mt 24,10).

-  Many false prophets will come to lead people astray (Mt 24,11).

-  Because lawlessness has become so common, people’s love will grow cold (Mt 24,12).

-  But the one who endures to the end will be saved (Mt 24,13).

-  And yet the gospel will be preached right up to the end (Mt 24,14).


And then the Lord tells them that they should watch out for these events, and when they see them occurring, they will recognize that his coming is near.

So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near.

Lk 21,29 Then He told them a parable: "Behold the fig tree and all the trees; 21,30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 21,31 "So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 21,32 "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. 21,33 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. Lk 21,29-33;


Here the Lord lists those events that will have to happen before his Second Coming, and urges us to look out for them. And just as we can recognize from the appearance of leaves on the trees in spring that the summer is drawing near, so when we see these events happening in the world we will recognize that the kingdom of God - and with it, the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture - is approaching. And when Mr Weber here says, “Right now we are exposed to this direct and constant expectation of the Second Coming of the Lord, and that is just what the biblical message demands of us”, we can see that the Our Lord’s instructions for the Christians of the Last Days, quoted above, convey a completely different biblical message. As Paul says in the passage quoted earlier (2The 2,1-3), so the Lord also tell us here that the faithful can still anticipate world-shaking events before the end of days and the Second Coming of the Lord are to be expected. And the Lord expressly calls on us to observe the events of world history in order to recognize from the events of which he has told us that his coming is imminent. Anyone who proclaims to the brethren that they need not pay any attention to such things is sending the congregation open-eyed into catastrophe.

The attitude postulated by Mr Weber of “direct and constant expectation of the Second Coming of the Lord” is thus not a biblical message at all, and leads the congregation into a false sense of security. Many brothers and sisters take this thesis as a basis for their conviction that, whatever may happen, they do not need to worry about any more spiritual temptations in this world. And when we listen to such appeals for conversion - which are doubtless very clear and eloquent in their rhetoric - we can see, in the case of Mr Weber, the reason why he puts across such a message: he uses the idea that the Lord might come in the next five minutes to reinforce his constantly repeated injunction to his hearers that they be converted, here and now.

We can see that the intention is good, as tending to bring about conversions, but the fact that the approach deviates from Scripture brings grave danger in its train and involves the message in considerable risk. For a start we have the problem that such people will be converted on the basis of incorrect exposition of the Bible. We meet with a similar situation in connection with “event evangelization” in some congregations. Someone who can be lured into the congregations by the appeal of such functions is not likely to stand the test when matters become serious. In the same way, a person who has been converted with the proviso that he will not - even in a worst case scenario - be exposed to the Great Tribulation is not likely to persist in the faith, Tribulation or not. Our Lord does not need any kind of allure or pressure to be applied. A conversion must happen voluntarily, otherwise it is not a true conversion and cannot be expected to last long.

And then, according to the words of Paul in 2The 2,1-9, the Great Tribulation (the apostasy) and the Antichrist (the lawless one) are to be unleashed or revealed before the coming of the Lord. This Antichrist (Greek: antichristos= anti Christ) - whose name can also be translated as a “substitute or surrogate Christ” - will take his seat in the Temple in Jerusalem and proclaim himself to be “Christ” (the Messiah) and God, or the Son of God - which incidentally he could hardly do, if the true Christ had already anticipated him by coming - before the Great Tribulation - visibly into the world for all to see, as Mr Weber postulates. And he will call for worship to be paid to himself and to Satan, as we are told in Rev 13,4:

Rev 13,4 they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?" Rev 13, 4;


In his own lifetime the Lord prophesied to the scribes of Israel that whereas they had rejected him when he came as the Messiah in the name of his Father, when another comes in his own name - the Antichrist, that is - they will receive him with open arms and cries of Hallelujah.

If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.

Jn 5,39 "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 5,40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. 5,41 "I do not receive glory from men; 4,42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. 5,43 "I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. Jn 5,39-43;


And suppose someone really comes along tomorrow and tells us that he is Christ come back and the Messiah of the Jews, and appears to be able to prove it (“Who is like the beast?”, Rev 13,4) by performing signs and miracles never heard of before, and so makes himself ruler of the world, then the brethren of the congregation of St. Matthew in Bremen will remember that Brother Weber has told them that

“According to the Bible there is no event the occurrence of which is called for before Jesus comes again for his congregation”,


so they will be delighted in their supposition that the biblical prophecies have finally been fulfilled, and Jesus Christ has come to take over the rule of the world.

What a fatal error! Not without reason the Lord remarks, at the end of his warnings in Mt 24,25:

“Behold, I have told you in advance.”.