The elect of Mt 24:31 – Christian congregation of the Last
Days or Israelites? / Reply Matthias Sigg 00, 2002-08-30
The Rapture before the Great Tribulation. / Reply
Matthias Sigg 00, 2002-08-26
The Bride of the Lamb . / Reply Matthias Sigg 01,
The seven Letters to the churches. / Reply Matthias
Sigg 02, 2002-08-26
Is it no longer a matter of salvation, but of reigning on earth?
/ Comment David Kallweit 00, 2002-11-11
The true end-time prophecies of
the Bible. / Discourse 1132
The discourse of the Lord Jesus on the Last Days in Matth. 24+25 is principally concerned with
the faithful remnant of the people of Israel. We can see this from the following points, for instance:
- The starting point is the Temple in Jerusalem.
- At that time the gospel of the Kingdom will be preached, and not ‘the glorious
gospel of the blessed God’ (1.Tim. 1,11) ‘to the praise of the glory of his grace’ (Eph. 1,6; 3,6-9).
- The Lord here refers to Dan. 9,27, a revelation to this much beloved prophet which
applies in a special sense to his people and to the holy city, and which is an important key to prophesy and
to God’s intentions with regard to this earth. The ways of God with his heavenly congregation (the Bride)
have nothing whatever to do with this, even if they go back to God’s counsels ‘before the foundation of
the world’ (Eph. 1,4).
- The Kingdom on the other hand is a promise for this earth, and especially for the
people of Israel. It has been prepared for them ‘from the foundation of the world’ (Matth. 25,34).
- The elect who are summoned from the four winds at the mighty blast of the trumpet
are therefore the ten tribes of Israel, missing hitherto, who only now, on the appearance of the sign of the
Son of Man in heaven, will be united with the sorrowing tribes of the land (the two tribes, that is, who have
already returned in a spirit of unbelief), in order to receive their Messiah at the end of the time of
Matthias Sigg email@example.com
You think, then, that these texts in Mt 24 and 25 should be referred to "the ten tribes of
Israel, missing hitherto" and have nothing to do with "the congregation (the Bride)" – with the
Christian congregation, that is.
I would like to bring to your attention some of the passages in question, together with the conclusions that can be drawn from them:
Right at the start of Mt 24 it is plain that we have to do with the Coming of the Lord:
What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?
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;
This means we can confidently presume that the following statements refer precisely to the time that we are concerned here. And directly before this time of the Coming of the Lord various events are due to occur:
Nation will rise against nation, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.
Mt 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, 7- 8;
We have here a scenario of worldwide wars, famines and earthquakes. So far, then, there is nothing that relates to the ten missing tribes of Israel – the whole world seems to be involved. But this is only "the beginning of the birth pangs". So what comes next?
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;
The content of the first half sentence – "Then they will deliver you to tribulation" - might lead us to suppose that the Lord is here speaking to his disciples, that is, to Jews – and so that it really is the fate of Israel that is at issue here. But the second half of the sentence then immediately confirms that the opposite is the case: "... you will be hated by all nations because of My name." Clearly only Christians can be hated because of the name of the Lord – for the sake of Christ. This cannot apply to the Jews, who never accepted Christ in the first place.
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. Mt 24,14;
Here we are told of the "gospel of the kingdom". This kingdom, of course, means the
Millennium and the dominion of the Lord Jesus. Now it is quite correct that this is a promise that has a
special reference for the people of Israel, but we have to bear in mind the fact that this very people of
Israel has up to the present time refused to accept this gospel, although Christians have been proclaiming it
for two thousand years. The question also suggests itself why it should be a testimony "to all nations" if
the saying only applies to Israel.
Seeing that the "gospel of the kingdom" and the gospel of the dominion of Christ is also, and especially, a Christian gospel, and it has been Christians who have preached this gospel "in the whole world", we can only see this statement as being the answer of the Lord to the disciples’ questions about the end of the age. The global dominion of the Son of God in the Millennium will put an end to all human power systems in this world.
Your concluding argument that the gathering of the elect in Mt 24,31 refers to the lost ten tribes of Israel, who at this time will be gathered together with the two tribes of Judah already resident in Israel, suggests the question on what basis these Israelites should have been "elected". On the one hand they are in no way different from the "two tribes of Judah". The forefathers of the one, just like the forefathers of the other, rejected the Messiah when he came to them, and condemned him to die on the Cross. Nor have they to date, either of them – in the course of almost two thousand years – admitted to the injustice of this, let alone regretted it, indeed they have made a strict point of denying Christianity.
And just this is the reason why the elect cannot possibly be seen as Israelites. For if we think of those Israelites who have been converted to faith in the Lord Jesus, then they belong by blood, admittedly, to the people of Israel, but in virtue of their faith they must be seen as Christians, and so as forming part of the congregation. Everything applies to them in the same measure as it does to all brothers and sisters of the congregation, of whatever nationality. But if we see these Israelites as Jews who follow the Law of Moses, then on the basis of the Lord’s saying at Jn 14,6-7 we must exclude them from the Last Days scenario of the dealings between God and man, until the time of their conversion:
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;
In view of the fact that all Jews who believe in the Law of Moses reject Jesus Christ as their Lord and God – and as their Messiah, for that matter – it follows from these sayings of the Lord just quoted that they have no chance of coming to God in the time between the death and resurrection of the Lord and his Second Coming. Only on that Second Coming, when they look on him whom they have pierced and weep bitterly over him, will the people of Israel again be reconciled with their God.
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 consequently the references to the "elect" in Mt 24,22 and Mt 24,31 cannot refer to
the people of Israel, but have to relate to the congregation of the Last Days.
On the other hand it is actually Paul who describes the Christians as "God’s elect":
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 2,10 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;
We also have, in the context of Mt 24 – before the gathering of the elect with whom we are here concerned – the promise of the Lord:
For the sake of the elect the days of 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
But this must mean that it is also – and specifically – these elect who are affected by the
Great Tribulation and who are redeemed as a result of those days being cut short.
The parallel passage in Luke likewise indicates that the redemption of the faithful 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;
And now John tells us in Revelation (Rev 7,9) that he saw a great multitude from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues before the throne:
A great multitude from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne.
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; 7,10 and they cry out with
a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." Rev 7, 9-10;
Inasmuch as this great multitude comes of all nations and peoples, and is seen standing in
heaven before the throne, these must be believing Christians who have already died. This is also confirmed by
their song of praise: "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." Jews
would hardly taint their lips by referring to "the Lamb", to our Lord Jesus Christ.
We have a further confirmation of the fact that this great multitude consists of Christians in the following verses, when the elder who explains this heavenly vision to John, tells him that "... they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev 7,14). This means that these faithful in heaven who are standing before the throne have accepted the redeeming sacrifice of the Lord Jesus for their sins and so are now saved – something that would be quite out of the question for Jews, as otherwise they would no longer be Jews but Christians.
And now that we have established the fact that the great multitude must be Christians, we are told in the passage below (Rev 7,14) that these Christians have 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. 7,15 "For this reason,
they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the
throne will spread His tabernacle over them. Rev 7,13-15;
These must then be those for whose sake – according to the Lord’s saying quoted above (Mt
24,21-22) – these days of the Great Tribulation have been cut short: "For then there will be a great
tribulation..., but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short". And these are those
who earlier (Rev 6,12-13, parallel to Mt 24,29), have been taken up in the Rapture on the coming of the Lord
(Mt 24,30-31). And this gives us convincing scriptural proof that the "elect" of Mt 24 have to be
Christians and not Jews.
So when, following this, we are told about the elect in Mt 24,31:
And He will send forth His angels and they will gather together His elect.
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 on 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;
there can be no doubt that Christians are referred to. And when the Lord sends forth his
angels to gather together the Christians of the whole world, there can be only one scriptural explanation of
this: what we have to do with here, in Mt 24,31, is the Rapture foretold by Paul (1Cor 15,51-53; 1The
And finally we have a mention, in John too, of the elect:
Those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.
Rev 17,14 "These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome
them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen
and faithful." Rev 17,14;
This is the battle of Armageddon, and the Lord Jesus – the Lamb – wages war with his heavenly
host against the Antichrist and his ten tributary kings. And here we are told: "...and those who are with
him are ... the chosen...". It follows that these chosen, or elect, are in heaven. There must,
then, have been a time at which they arrived there. These are of course the elect – the Christian elect – who
in Mt 24,31 are gathered together by the angels of the Lord and are taken into the Rapture in Christ, together
with the dead who have been resurrected!
Now I completely share your opinion that the Millennium – the kingdom of a thousand years – is "a promise for this earth, and especially for the people of Israel". But this is just the reason why the attempt to see in these elect of Mt 24,31 the "ten lost tribes of Israel" falls down – because the Israelites’ hope of salvation is above all an earthly hope. In the Millennium, with our Lord Jesus Christ as world governor and with Israel as the "chief of nations" (Jer 31,7), they will indeed have all blessings fulfilled for them that the Almighty has promised to them through his prophets. The path of salvation for Christians, however - after the resurrection and the Rapture – will find its continuation in heaven with the Lord.
(See also Discourse 38: "What awaits Christian and Jews on
the Second Coming of the Lord?")
And finally, the attempt to see the elect of Mt 24,31 as the Israelites overlooks the fact that the Israelites, as we are told by Scripture, will indeed be gathered together, but only when they search for their Lord and God with their whole heart and soul. And if we are acquainted with the Israelites, we know well enough that they will only begin to search for him when the Almighty has brought them to the very brink of annihilation.
The remnant of Israel will return to the LORD their God and listen to His voice.
5Mo "The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left
few in number among the nations where the LORD drives you. 4,28 "There you will serve gods, the
work of man’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.
4,29 "But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. 4,30 "When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice.
4,31 "For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them. Deut 4,27-31;
And this return of Israel will not be effected by angels, either: rather "the peoples will take Israel along and bring them to their place", and their sons will be carried "in the bosom" and their daughters "on the shoulders" of the heathen into their own country.
The peoples will take Israel along and bring them to their place.
Isa 14,1 When the LORD will have compassion on Jacob and again choose Israel, and settle them in their own land, then strangers will join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob. 14,2 The peoples will take them along and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them as an inheritance in the land of the LORD as male servants and female servants; and they will take their captors captive and will rule over their oppressors. Isa 14, 1- 2;
And they will bring your sons in their bosom, And your daughters will be carried on their shoulders.
Isa 49,22 Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations And set up My standard to the peoples; And they will bring your sons in their bosom, And your daughters will be carried on their shoulders. Isa 49,22;
Your sons will come from afar, And your daughters will be carried in the arms.
Isa 60,4 "Lift up your eyes round about and see; They all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, And your daughters will be carried in the arms. Isa 60, 4;
The nations will bring your sons from afar, their silver and gold for the name of the LORD your God.
Isa 60,9 "Surely the coastlands will wait for Me; And the ships of Tarshish
will come first, To bring your sons from afar, Their silver and their gold with them, For the name of the
LORD your God, And for the Holy One of Israel because He has glorified you. Isa 60, 9;
And it cannot be assumed here that the heathen suddenly and without any reason discover their
love of the people of Israel. It is rather to be supposed that this attitude will only make an appearance
after the wrath of God has broken over the entire world, together with catastrophic happenings and the
reorganization of heaven and earth.
(See also Chapter 08: "The reorganization of heaven and
Then the heathen will realize that there is a God, and will come to reflect that Israel is the people of God.
Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.
Zech 8,23 "Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all
the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God
is with you."‘" Zech 8,23;
One final argument to illuminate the logical aspect of the interpretation of the Israelites as
the elect of Mt 24,31. If we assume that the events of Mt 24 and of Rev 6 and 7 are in parallel, then the
gathering of the elect happens at the time of the sixth seal in Revelation (Rev 6,12-17). This means that the
Israelites would have to be already in their own land, in Jerusalem, at this time, and this would have further
consequences, inasmuch as after the sixth seal there follows the seventh, with the plagues of the trumpets,
and after that we have the two witnesses of God in Jerusalem (Rev 11), where Jerusalem is referred to as "Sodom
and Egypt". These people living in Jerusalem rejoice that the Antichrist has killed God’s two witnesses
(Rev 11,7.10; 13,7) and even refuse to allow their dead bodies to be buried (Rev 11,9). And finally the
Almighty sends an earthquake upon the city, in which seven thousand of the inhabitants are killed (Rev 11,13)
- can we see all this happening if these same inhabitants are the Israelites who have been gathered together
by the angels?
(See also Discourse 05: "The parallel course of events of Mt
24 and Rev 6 and 7.")
The rule of the Antichrist in Jerusalem would then also happen at the time when the Israelites
who would have been gathered by the angels are already dwelling in their land. Now we are told in Rev 16:
Men blasphemed the name of God and they did not repent.
Rev 16,8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun, and it was given to
it to scorch men with fire. 16,9 Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God
who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory. Rev 16, 8- 9;
Men blasphemed the God of heaven and they did not repent of their deeds.
Rev 16,10 Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast,
and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain, 16,11 and they blasphemed
the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds. Rev
These are just two examples out of many which prove that there cannot be any believing
Israelites in Israel at this time. And the elect whom the angels have gathered would obviously have to be
The opposite, then, is the case: the Israelites will only return to their land after the battle of Armageddon has been fought, and after the reorganization of heaven and earth has taken place, together with an earthquake such as has never been seen upon earth before (Rev 16,18-20), in which all the mountains are leveled and all the islands disappear.
(See also Chapter 09: "The return home of the redeemed.")
Only then will the Israelites – and not just the Israelites, but all people who survive these
global catastrophes – recognize that Almighty God has taken up his dominion as ruler of this world. And only
then will those Israelites return to their own land, to become one people with those out of Judah and the "chief
of nations" (Jer 31,7) in the Millennium.
What would it be like, on the other hand, if a bride were to say to her bridegroom, Yes, I do
long for you, but I think it would be best if I could wait to give a demonstration of my love for you until
the time when you settle accounts with your enemies and with the false bride.
After Rev 19,6 the twenty-four elders, who symbolize the totality of all the redeemed who are involved in the Rapture, are not mentioned again. This is because here at the Marriage of the Lamb there is a clear distinction made between the Bride of the Lamb and the blessed guests from the Old Testament who have been invited, of whom John the Baptist calls himself the friend of the bridegroom and rejoices on that account (Jn 3,29).
The second passage in Revelation that gives us a clear distinction between three groups of the faithful who have overcome, at different periods of time, is 20,4. Here we find:
1. Those who are permitted to sit upon thrones (the faithful from the Old Testament, and
the Bride or congregation, thus identical with the twenty-four Elders)
2. Those who in the first three and a half years of the time of affliction were beheaded
for the sake of the testimony of Jesus and the Word of God, especially for having proclaimed the gospel of the
3. Those who have not worshiped the beast or received his mark (666) on their forehead or
their hand, because they have been constant in their adherence to the eternal Gospel.
There are a whole string of further distinctions which I would be happy to point out to you,
if you are interested – these distinctions seem to me important, if we are to understand the mind of our God
and Father, who loves the church of God so much that he purchased it with his own blood (Acts 20,28) and has
even given it HIM, his beloved Son, as head over all things (Eph. 1,22). He is the Father who delights to
prepare a wedding for his Son, as Abraham once longed to do for Isaac (a symbolic anticipation).
Matthias Sigg firstname.lastname@example.org
With reference to the Rapture you write in the above passage:
"What would it be like, on the other hand, if a bride were to say to her
bridegroom, Yes, I do long for you, but I think it would be best if I could wait to give a demonstration of my
love for you until the time when you settle accounts with your enemies and with the false bride."
With this argument you think to prove that the Rapture of the congregation will take place
before the dominion of Antichrist and so, in your view, before the Great Tribulation. Before I proceed to a
detailed demonstration (in which I will also refer to the statements you cite in your contribution), let me
just put the simile you suggest as it appears from my point of view, in a nutshell:
What would it be like if a bride were to say to her bridegroom,
"I love you but I will not go so far as to risk
my life for you – so make sure that you bring me to a place of safety in good time."
This bride, surely, must be seen as cowardly and egotistical. As the congregation, we should not be
principally concerned with the love of the Lord for us, but more with our love for him. If we have this, then
his love for us is certain.
But you then go a step further: while you think that the congregation will be caught up in the Rapture before the Great Tribulation, it appears from your statement that there are also Christians who will have to undergo this Tribulation. As you put it, these are
"2. Those who in the first three and a half years of the time of affliction were
beheaded for the sake of the testimony of Jesus and the Word of God, especially for having proclaimed the
gospel of the Kingdom.
3. Those who have not worshiped the beast or received his mark (666) on their forehead or their hand, because they have been constant in their adherence to the eternal Gospel."
How do you now mean this to be understood? Are these people who proclaim the Gospel in a time
of affliction and are constant in their faith not members of the congregation – are they not also the "Bride"?
How is it that they have not been caught up in the Rapture before the time of affliction, as the "Bride"
It rather looks here as if you would like to divide Christians into three groups: those from the Old Testament, who are not the "Bride", those who live after the Rapture, who are not the "Bride" either, and finally the "Bride", i.e. those are caught up in the Rapture before the time of affliction. But there is no basis in scripture for such a division. On the contrary, scripture tells us that all who have been converted to Christ – never mind at what juncture or in what circumstances – are believing Christians.
You then go on to say:
"After Rev 19,6 the twenty-four Elders, who symbolize the totality of all the
redeemed who are involved in the Rapture, are not mentioned again. This is because here at the Marriage of the
Lamb there is a clear distinction made between the Bride of the Lamb and the blessed guests from the Old
Testament who have been invited, of whom John the Baptist calls himself the friend of the bridegroom and
rejoices on that account (Jn 3,29)."
This means that we are to take both the "twenty-four Elders" and the "Bride of the Lamb" as symbolic references to the "totality of all the redeemed" from the Rapture. Now presumably we are in agreement about the "great multitude which no one could count" of Rev 7,9:
A great multitude 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:
This must likewise represent a part of the "totality of all the redeemed" (those, that is, who come out of the Great Tribulation). Seeing that they come "from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues," they clearly cannot be Jews. So here we now have a third symbol for the Christian congregation. But the twenty-four elders are in actual fact in heaven well before the Rapture takes place (Rev 4,10), so they cannot be the "totality of all the redeemed". If it were otherwise, Rev 7,13-15 would not make any sense either:
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. 7,15 "For
this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who
sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. Rev 7,13-15;
Here one of the twenty-four elders – in your view, the congregation (symbolically speaking) -
asks John where this great multitude – in your view also to be symbolically understood as the congregation -
has come from. This makes nonsense of the whole passage.
Quite apart from this, we have in the two scriptural passages just quoted "a great multitude which no one could count... standing before the throne and before the Lamb", who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb – that is to say, these are Christians from all over the world, and so members of the congregation of Christ, who as the elder tells us have come out of the Great Tribulation. And if these Christians have come out of the Great Tribulation – as the elder says – then they must necessarily have been through it.
How then is it possible to ignore the statement made here by one of the saints of God – indeed, to turn it back to front by asserting that the congregation has been caught up in the Rapture at an early stage, and so does not have to go through the Great Tribulation? What is more, we have a further scriptural proof in Revelation that the congregation of the Last Days will have to go through the Great Tribulation:
And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and who had not worshiped the beast or his image.
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 the 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. Rev
Here John sees the souls of the martyrs in heaven, and no one will deny that they belong to
the congregation, seeing that they have been killed because of the testimony of Jesus. It is also stated that
they have not worshiped the beast or his image, so they must have lived in the time of the dominion of the
beast, the Antichrist – that is to say, in the time of the Great Tribulation (Rev 13,15). So if we now want to
appeal to a cowardly Last Days congregation that fights shy of suffering with talk of the Rapture’s taking
place before the Great Tribulation, we would also have to explain here when these brave Christians who have
overcome can be supposed to have got into heaven – as well as how it happens that for part of the congregation
of the Last Days the Rapture takes place before the sufferings of the Great Tribulation, while others of them
have to go through this time of trial, and are even martyred as a result.
In my earlier exposition I sought to demonstrate the scriptural statements indicating that the Rapture follows on the tribulation on the basis of Mt 24,29-30 and 2The 2,1-5:
Immediately after the tribulation the Son of Man will come and His angels will gather together the elect.
Mt 24,29 "But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun
will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers
of the heavens will be shaken. 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 on 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 24,29-31;
Here the Lord Jesus tells us that he will appear – visible to all humanity – on the clouds of
the sky only after the tribulation, and will then gather his elect and translate them in the
In Mt 24,4 the Lord also warns us that many false prophets will arise who will persuade the faithful that the Lord has already come.
See to it that no one misleads you; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ’.
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;
We find the same warning expressed by Paul in 2The 2,3: "Let no one in any way deceive you":
The day of the Lord and our gathering together to Him will not come, unless the Antichrist 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 it 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;
And Paul too tells us, very specifically and as a matter of urgency, that we must not let
ourselves be deceived – for first of all the apostasy must occur and the man of lawlessness be revealed, the
son of destruction, that is to say the Antichrist. Only then will the Lord Jesus come to gather us to himself
- that is, the Rapture.
(See also Chapter 06: "The Second Coming of the Lord – Part 1: The Return and the Rapture.")
You now write in your commentary:
"This public appearanc part e of the Lord with his faithful belongs to the Day
of the Lord, which will come upon the unbelievers like a thief in the night. In many Old Testament passages
(e.g. Joel 1,15 and Isa 13,6-8) it is called the ‘Day of Jehovah’ or simply ‘that day’, and it
includes the millennial kingdom that begins with judgment and ends with judgment (Rev 20,9+10).
- This selfsame Day of the Lord cannot come unless it is preceded by the apostasy. This apostasy means the complete denial of God and Christ on the part of professing Christians. All ‘barriers’ against evil will then collapse, so that the road is open for the appearance of the Antichrist.
The Thessalonians were in the picture about what restrains the Antichrist, so that in his time (i.e. when God allows it, but only for a short time) he may be revealed.
- Although the mystery of lawlessness (the effects of the spirit of the Antichrist: Jude 4, 1. Jn 4,3) is all the time becoming more powerful and more influential, there is someone who restrains him, until he is taken out of the way.
- So there are two powerful ‘restrainers’: that which is the power of God, which acts through the authorities he has established (Pro 21,1; Dan 4,25; Jn 19,11; Rom 13,1-10; 1.3Jn 2,13-17). But at the time of the Antichrist, the beast from the sea, who receives his power directly from Satan (Rev 13,4; 17,8-9) will be in power.
- He who restrains is a divine Person, one who is stronger than the spirit of the Antichrist. This can only be God the Holy Spirit, who dwells in the heart of every believing Christian of the time of grace (1.Jn 4,1-4) and who, as the Lord promises us at Jn 14,16, will be with us for all eternity. He dwells both in the totality of the redeemed (1.Cor 6,19) and in every individual Christian believer (1.Cor 3,16).
It follows from this that the apostasy which is to precede the manifestation of the Antichrist will only come when the authorities appointed by God and the Holy Spirit, and so also the Bride, the congregation of Christ, have made way for the self-willed and unrestrained man and the power of the enemy, whom the Lord Jesus will slay with the breath of his mouth."
To summarize: you hold that the "Day of the Lord" mentioned by Paul above (2The 2,2) is
the Millennium, the kingdom of a thousand years of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that between the Rapture of the
congregation and this Day there falls a period of apostasy, followed by the dominion of the Antichrist, and
thus the congregation must have been translated in the Rapture before the apostasy.
Here I must ask you to examine the text with greater attention to detail. Paul writes at the start of this section:
2The 2,1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our
Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him. 2The 2, 1;
The Thessalonians, then, were disturbed, because deceivers were trying to make them believe,
on the basis of forged letters, that the Coming of the Lord – and so also the Rapture(!), of which Paul
had told them when he was with them – had already taken place.
And then Paul continues:
2The 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. 2The 2,2;
In "the day of the Lord" Paul is thus referring to the Thessalonians’ direct attitude of
expectation relative to the day of the Coming of the Lord and their translation in the Rapture,
not to the Millennium (which does not come in question here at all, and in terms of time is still years away).
This is also confirmed by the verse following:
2The 2,3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for this day will not come
unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. 2The 2,
Paul assures the congregation of Thessalonica that "this day", that is the day of the Coming of the Lord and their gathering to him, will not come unless it has been preceded by the apostasy and the man of lawlessness. This is not a reference to the Millennium, as you suppose – what is at issue is the day of the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture of the faithful, as we also learn from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians:
Who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1Cor 1,7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the
revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1,8 who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day
of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Cor 1, 7- 8;
And in the apostasy and the Antichrist, moreover, we are not dealing with two different
periods of time, as you suggest when you write of
"the apostasy which is to precede the manifestation of the
but rather (as we can also see very clearly from Paul’s statement quoted above in 2The 2,3)
"it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of
lawlessness is revealed"
- we have to do here with one and the same happening: the apostasy of which Paul speaks is
the dominion of the Antichrist.
The final proof that the "coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" of which Paul writes in 2The 2,1, and so likewise of course "our gathering to him", will only happen at the end of the first three and a half years of the time dominated by the Antichrist is provided by Paul just a few verses further on, in 2The 2,8:
2The 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; 2The 2, 8;
The lawless one, that is the Antichrist, will be done away with by the Lord Jesus with the
breath of his mouth, and will be brought to an end "by the appearance of his coming".
And this "coming" is just that of which Paul writes in the above passage (2The 2,1) that at this time "our
gathering together to him" – that is, the Rapture of the congregation – will take place.
If then both the Rapture of the congregation of the Last Days and the annihilation of the Antichrist are to take place on the coming of the Lord, then this can only be at the end of the apostasy under the dominion of the Antichrist, at the end of the Great Tribulation, that is to say, and not at the beginning. The congregation that will be translated in the Rapture at this time must therefore have come through the affliction of this period, and cannot have been already caught up in the Rapture at an earlier stage. Taken together with Mt 24,29, these are statements which in very specific terms demonstrate the entire inadequacy of the thesis that the Rapture precedes the Great Tribulation.
I do not want to go on at excessive length, but I think that these scriptural proofs are irrefutable, and they tell us that the Lord will not come until the Antichrist has revealed himself openly. This means, without any doubt, that the Christian faithful will experience the time of the Great Tribulation. And in all honesty I would also find it a trifle peculiar if we as Christians were to "bow out" just when the time comes for us to stand up for our faith and give a demonstration of our love for our Lord. In Revelation the Lord speaks of those who have overcome (Rev 3,12; 13,10; 14,12-13; 15,2-4 and 20,4-6;). Who do you suppose this term can be referring to?
The false Bride is Christianity without Christ, the sad final phase of the official Christian
church, which remains on earth after our Lord has gathered to himself in the Rapture all those who at this
time have opened the door to let him in. The judgment that our Lord is forced to pronounce in the last letter
to the churches, that to the Laodiceans, thus applies only to those whose belief is mere lip-service, who have
no place in their hearts for real contrition. They are referred to collectively as the great whore who must be
done away with before the Marriage of the Lamb with the true Bride can take place. The Bride of the Lamb is
made up of all true believers from the first Pentecost to the Rapture. She has made herself ready in that she
has previously been manifested in heaven before the judgment seat of Christ, and now sees everything as Christ
does. After Rev 19,6 the twenty-four elders, who symbolize the totality of all the redeemed who are involved
in the Rapture, are not mentioned again. This is because here at the Marriage of the Lamb there is a clear
distinction made between the Bride of the Lamb and the blessed guests from the Old Testament who have been
invited, of whom John the Baptist calls himself the friend of the bridegroom and rejoices on that account (Jn
Matthias Sigg email@example.com
But we have a proof that the "Bride of the Lamb" cannot stand for the congregation, as you suppose, in Rev 19,6-10:
A great multitude saying: Hallelujah! The marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.
Rev 19,6 Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and
like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, "Hallelujah! For the
Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.19,7 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the
marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." 19,8 It was given to her to
clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.19,9
Then he said to me, "Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’"
And he said to me, "These are true words of God." Rev 19, 6- 9;
Here we again have a great multitude, which indeed does represent the "totality of all the
redeemed", and it calls out "Let us rejoice and be glad... His bride has made herself ready." So if both
the great multitude and the Bride were the congregation, the multitude would hardly be calling out to itself
that "His bride has made herself ready".
In my understanding of the matter, however, the "Bride" is not drawn from the nations. It is the 144,000 of all the twelve tribes of Israel, the first fruits of God and the Lamb, who are to be identified with the Bride (Rev 7,3-8). The members of the congregation – the great multitude – are those "who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb". In Rev 19,9 the elder says "Blessed are those who are invited." We then are wedding guests, not the Bride herself.
We have an unambiguous demonstration that this is the case in the statements made by the Lord. Thus he refers to himself in Mt 9,15 as the bridegroom, and to the disciples – the founding fathers of the congregation – not as the "Bride" but as wedding guests, "the attendants of the bridegroom":
Your disciples do not fast? – The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn.
Mt 9,14 Then the disciples of John came to Him, asking, "Why do we and the
Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?" 9,15 And Jesus said to them, "The attendants
of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days
will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. Mt 9,14-15;
The parable of the wedding feast likewise, which speaks of the Jews of Israel as having been invited and having failed to come, whereupon the invitation was issued to all nations (a passage rightly regarded as a proof of the congregation’s being saved), also makes it clear (Mt 22,9) that we have to do not with any kind of substitution of a different bride – rather it is a case of different wedding guests:
And the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.
Mt 22,8 "Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who
were invited were not worthy. 2,9 ‘Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite
to the wedding feast.’ 22,10 "Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they
found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. Mt 22, 8-10;
It is the same in the parable of the ten virgins: in Mt 25,1-13 the virgins represent the
congregation. But the bride herself is already in the marriage chamber. The scriptural proof of this is that
the parable does not mention the bride at all, while the bridegroom on the other hand then enters the house
and celebrates his marriage (Mt 25,10), together with the five wise virgins. If the bride had not been in the
house already, it would have been difficult for the wedding to take place.
(See also Discourse 68: "Do Matthew 24 and 25 not have any reference to the
congregation? – The ten virgins and the bride.")
We can see, then, that the "Bride" has never changed, she has always remained the same.
But it seems that we, as the congregation, are no longer satisfied with being "merely" wedding guests and
happy in the presence of the Lord. We want more than that! We want to be co-rulers, to wield power.
(See also Chapter 063: "The Second Coming of the Lord – part 3: The marriage of the Lamb.")
As the congregation, we are behaving more and more like a Moloch, referring all promises of salvation to ourselves exclusively. Many of the promises that were made to Israel, for instance, have been assimilated by uncritical scriptural commentators to the congregation free of charge. It starts with the congregation being seen as the woman in heaven of Rev 12,1-17, then again the congregation is seen in the twenty-four elders of Rev 4,10, in the 144,000 who are sealed in Rev 7,1-8 (even though Israelites are here expressly referred to!), in the great multitude of Rev 19,6 (the only correct attribution), and this tendency has been carried so far that in defiance of all logic some commentators even see the congregation both as the bride and as the bridegroom (body of Christ). It is then hardly surprising if as a result of this omnipresence of the congregation certain brothers and sisters should give evidence of a certain elitist conceit. We should therefore take to heart the advice of the Lord in Mt 18,1-5, where exactly the opposite course is recommended.
Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Mt 18,1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is
greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"18,2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 18,3
and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the
kingdom of heaven. 18,4 "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom
of heaven. 18,5 "And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; Mt 18, 1- 5;
If you now try to identify the Christian faithful "from the Old Testament" with the
wedding guests, there is this to be said on that subject: there can only be any Christian faithful "from the
Old Testament" if they have been converted through the Lord’s preaching of the gospel during his three-day
sojourn in the kingdom of the dead ("the sign of Jonah", Mt 12.39-40; 1Pet 4,6). They cannot have become
Christians in their lifetime, as they could not have known anything of Christ or of his uniquely saving
(See also Excursus 09: "The Paradise.")
If then it is the case that they have acknowledged Christ through this opportunity of
conversion, offered to all human beings who had died up to this point in time, there is in point of fact no difference between them and the members of the congregation who have been converted since our Lord’s appearance on earth and while they were still alive. Consequently there is no convincing reason why some Christians should be classified as the Bride and the rest as just wedding guests.
(See also Discourse 15: "Who is the ’Bride of the Lamb’?")
The seven letters to the churches of Rev 2-3 are a prophetic "ecclesiastical history in
miniature". Each letter includes a special promise on the part of the Lord for him who overcomes in the
circumstances of the time described. ...
In the case of Philadelphia: "I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have." Here the Lord puts a special stress on what for some 150 years past has been so precious to him in the revivalist movement. The more the Bride in the Song of Solomon grows in love of her bridegroom, the less is she concerned with her own love, but all the more with his love for her: "I am my beloved’s, And his desire is for me" (So 7,10). Paul writes in 2.Thess. 3,5: "And may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ." If we have a feeling of what it must mean for the heart of our heavenly Bridegroom if we keep the word of his perseverance, we are also in a position to understand the value of his inestimable promise: "I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world." (Rev 3,10)
Matthias Sigg firstname.lastname@example.org
This interpretative approach is not new, but it suffers from a crucial weakness. If we assume
that the seven letters to the churches are really an "ecclesiastical history in miniature", then they
would have to represent the history of the church, starting with the first century, in seven successive
periods of time.
But then the seventh and last congregation would have to be the congregation of the Last Days. And in all consistency this would also have to be that congregation to whom the promise is directed that "I also will keep you from the hour of testing... that is about to come upon the whole world" – that "hour" in which adherents of this view want to see a reference to the Great Tribulation.
But it happens to be the case that the seventh and last congregation is that of Laodicea, and the Lord condemns it for being neither cold nor hot, and the congregation to whom this promise of preservation from the hour of testing is given is that of Philadelphia, the sixth congregation and the last but one. This means that there plainly cannot be a historical succession in the sequence of the seven letters, which rules out an "ecclesiastical history in miniature" as well.
(See also Excursus 02: "The seven Letters to the churches.")
Yesterday evening I found time once again, after a rather long break, to take a look at your
website. And I can only present you with my sincerest compliments. Yesterday I read the Discourses "The
elect of Mt 24,31: Christian congregation of the Last Days or Israelites?" and "What awaits Christians and
Jews on the Second Coming of the Lord?" with feelings of heart-felt joy.
I find your arguments easy to follow, and I share your views, especially in what has to do with the discussion of the position and role of the congregation and the people of Israel and the promises made to each. In my opinion you are completely right about this! I have not seen a single point on which I do not agree with you.
And one thing in particular delighted me, because you once again state publicly something that chimes precisely with my own feelings: ‘We can see, then, that the "Bride" has never changed, she has always remained the same. But it seems that we, as the congregation, are no longer satisfied with being "merely" wedding guests and happy in the presence of the Lord. We want more than that! We want to be co-rulers, to wield power.’
How very true!!!! Many are concerned not so much with salvation in God, but rather with reigning on earth - the demonstration of pomp, glory and power. And instead of being happy and rejoicing at the thought of being with the Lord while the earth is still approaching its end, they envy the people of Israel the earthly promise made to it, and would rather reign with them. I do not want to claim that I myself am entirely untouched by arrogance and the lust for power. But I have recognized how blessed it is to have humility, patience and submissive trust in God. And to that extent I feel I can be confident that the Lord God will on no account forget any of his children, or leave them out in the cold. Many thanks for your absolutely great website - above all great in the way it constantly stays close to the Bible. It is always a delight to read. May God continue to bless your project abundantly.
David Kallweit Freiburg, GERMANY email@example.com / https://www.informatik.uni-freiburg.de/~kallweit/
It is a joy to me, having had a fair number of critical contributions in the past, to get some
affirmative remarks as well. My best thanks for your friendly comments – may the Lord give his blessing to you
and your work as well.