Living And Dying In Light Of The Rapture: -- By: Daniel M. Starcevich
JODT 19:57 (Summer 2015) p. 111
Living And Dying In Light Of The Rapture:
* Daniel M. Starcevich, M.S., Th.M., advising professor, Tyndale Theological Seminary; engineering director, Raytheon Missile Systems
Death is an intruder who no one can escape; it is always unwanted, often unexpected, and sometimes shocking in its mode. When death encroaches, the survivors are left in grief, sorrow, and pain. The Lord Himself grieved deeply at the death of his friend Lazarus. Similarly, all will grieve when the interloper comes to friends and family. Grief is inevitable. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul admonished the readers not to grieve as pagans do (4:13). How then are Christians to grieve?
The purpose of this article is to explore how Paul’s eschatology was to contour the grief of the Thessalonians and how Pauline eschatology can structure one’s own personal and pastoral response to death today. If Paul did contour grief by eschatology then it will first be necessary to establish a patent understanding of eschatological events, particularly the relationship between the rapture and the day of the Lord. An apparent understanding of the eschatological events at the close of the church age is widely recognized as dependent upon a resolute understanding of the timing of the day of the Lord. David Olander wrote, “The day of the Lord is so central that a thorough understanding is essential for any proper interpretation of eschatology.”1 Furthermore, Olander asserted, “It is critical to understand that the day of the Lord cannot begin until the church has been raptured or removed from the planet.”2 Similarly, with regard to the timing of the Day of the Lord, Charles Ryrie commented, “The question of the beginning of the Day of the Lord is a watershed between pre- and posttribulationism.”3
A concise description of the order of the prophetic events at the close of the church age and the start of the seventieth week of Daniel are provided in 1 and 2 Thessalonians, in which Paul instructed the readers
JODT 19:57 (Summer 2015) p. 112
concerning the relationship between the rapture of the church and the day of the Lord. Paul’s purpose was not only to instruct but also to provide affectionate pastoral care. He regarded this suffering church as a model of faith, was maternally affectionate toward them, and had generously and selflessly spared them any financial burden by supporting himself through working “night and day.” He longed to see them in order to strengthen them in their fai...
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