Category Archives: THE CHURCH THE BODY OF CHRIST

Are Matthew 3:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaking of the same Spirit baptism?

ARE MATTHEW 3:11 AND 1 CORINTHIANS 12:13 SPEAKING OF THE SAME SPIRIT BAPTISM?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No. No. No. No! Regardless of what any “scholar” may tell you, they are not the same concept!

The Scriptures say in 1 Corinthians chapter 12: “[12] For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. [13] For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

Verse 13 reads as follows in the Greek Textus Receptus (the source of the King James New Testament): “Kai_gar [For] en* [by] eni [one] pneumati [Spirit] emeis [we] pantes [all] eis [into] en [one] soma [body] ebaptisthemen [are baptized], eite [whether] Ioudaioi [Jews] eite [or] Ellenes [Gentiles], eite [whether] douloi [bond] eite [or] eleutheroi [free] – kai [and] pantes [all] eis [into] en [one] pneuma [Spirit] epotisthemen [have been made to drink].”

Some theologians raise the issue that the Greek preposition “en” (“by”) at the beginning of the verse (noted by the asterisk* above) can also be rendered “with” or “in.” Whereas the King James says, “For by one Spirit…,” the alternate readings would thus be “For with one Spirit” and “For in one Spirit.” The “with” variant is particularly appealing to denominationalists because they cross-reference it to the “with” (see the asterisk* below) portion of John the Baptist’s warning in Matthew 3:11: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with* [en] the Holy Ghost, and with fire:….”

It is absolutely erroneous to make Jesus Christ baptizing people with the Holy Ghost (Matthew 3:11) the same as the Holy Spirit baptizing people into the Church the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). Since the disparate prepositions in the English Bible cannot be used to support the idea that they are the same, theologians will then “run to the Greek” to retranslate what they assume the Bible writers meant in the original language. “By” in 1 Corinthians 12:13, they say, is wrong because it must agree with the “with” of Matthew 3:11.

One theologian has gone so far as to state that the Bible never once refers to the Holy Spirit as the Person doing the baptizing. In fact, he claimed that Matthew 3:11 says Jesus always baptizes. However, if 1 Corinthians 12:13 is left alone as it appears in the King James Bible, then the theologian is wrong, and the Holy Spirit is indeed the baptizer there!! Now we see why people are always trying to make (so-called) “helpful changes” to the Authorized Version. They are adjusting the Bible to fit their theology! Their system is the authority and the Scripture is quoted only when it supports the “pet” denominational tenet. They “correct” the Bible to agree with their preferred position. Any Bible contradictions can be written off as “mistakes” or “mistranslations.” What a shame!

Here, friends, is the tomfoolery—hiding under the guise of “scholarship” and “education”—that has led to such Bible perversions and corruptions for centuries upon centuries. These are the poor attitudes of most individuals leading our seminaries and teaching in our Bible colleges. You can find their students/graduates in myriads of pulpits and literature everywhere. They are the very people who sit on translation committees to publish the latest Bible version (and then their confusion is passed on the poor, unsuspecting readers). Even if they mean well—and hopefully they do mean well—they nevertheless are not using Divine insight when handling God’s Word. Such shoddy Bible interpretation belongs with lost people but not among Christian people!

If we ignore the dispensational distinctions in Scripture, then we cannot make sense of or fully appreciate the Bible. Its truths mean little to nothing to us if we go around “correcting” it. Whatever light it can give us is now obscured because we have thrown shadows and enigmas on it. The Spirit baptism in Matthew 3:11 and the Spirit baptism in 1 Corinthians 12:13 have nothing to do with each other. To combine them is to confuse the Church the Body of Christ with the Messianic Church found in Acts chapter 2. Our baptism by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ is forced to be the same as Israel’s baptism with the Holy Spirit in early Acts. The dispensations are mixed. Prophecy and mystery have been combined. Nothing but unanswerable confusion will result when we start attacking the Bible with “re-translations!”

Brethren, we should always be suspicious of the Bible commentator who plays the role of Bible translator. The preacher or teacher is to use the Bible as is. He can and should explain the text, but he oversteps his bounds when he adds to the Bible, subtracts from the Bible, or retranslates the Bible. The English King James Bible is correctwhether he believes it or not, whether he agrees with it or not, whether we believe it or not, whether we agree with it or not. We are known as “people of the Book” but is that title appropriate if we vilify and correct the very book we proclaim to be “the infallible, inerrant Word of God?” It does not make sense. (Of course, religious tradition never does!!)

Rather than approaching the Bible dispensationally and thus appreciating its layout, people have been trained to panic and “smooth over” any disparities in the Bible text. They are under the impression that there is only one audience in the Scripture. There can be no nation Israel and the Body of Christ. There can be no prophetic program and mystery program. There can be no Peter and Paul. There is only one group of believers of all ages. There is only one program in Scripture. Paul is an extension of Peter. God never changes His dealings with man. All the promises in the Bible belong to us. Here are the fundamental blunders, the outright lies, which have led to more Bible corruption, more denominations, and more confusion. We had better approach the Bible “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15), or we will not have a prayer in the world in comprehending it.

In closing, let us repeat ourselves. The idea that Matthew 3:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 have the same Spirit baptism is all predicated on the erroneous notion that there is only one “church” in the Book of Acts. The Messianic Church and the Church the Body of Christ are not to be confused. Matthew 3:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 have absolutely nothing to do with each other. They were not the same baptism, they are still not the same baptism, and they will never be the same baptism. It does not matter what any theologian says. Whether we agree with it or not, the King James Bible is still correct (“BY one Spirit” in 1 Corinthians 12:13). It was here long before we were born and it will be here long after we are gone. What we had better do is believe it as it is, and stop “correcting” (corrupting) it using our limited understanding.

Also see:
» Did the Church the Body of Christ begin in Acts chapter 2?
» Should “church” be changed to “called-out assembly” in Acts 7:38 in the King James Bible?
» Do we live in the “Church Age?”

What advice can be given to Christians coping with the death of another saint?

WHAT ADVICE CAN BE GIVEN TO CHRISTIANS COPING WITH THE DEATH OF ANOTHER SAINT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35). It is not a sin to mourn the loss of a loved one—even a Christian bewailing a Christian. This is quite natural and not to be discouraged. Expressing such feelings is vital to good mental, physical, and emotional health. Emotions are God-given and not sinful in and of themselves. (Sin creeps in when we use our emotions to make decisions. Emotions are fickle, they change through time, and “feelings” should instead be replaced with logic as touching choices.) If Jesus Christ shed tears as He stood before the tomb of His deceased friend Lazarus, so we can cry concerning the death of loved ones.

Take great comfort in knowing that Jesus Christ was just as human as we are—except without a sin nature. He knows firsthand the sting of death striking the soul as a friend succumbs to physical death. In other words, not only can He be sympathetic toward us, He can be empathetic. He experienced that loss Himself many times while He lived His earthly life. Furthermore, since He designed our emotions, He can relate to us in that regard as well. We are not alone in our grief, displeasure, and pain. He does care, He is concerned, and, above (!) all (!) else (!), He has given us Bible verses of comfort! (We will say more about this a little later.)

Here are some suggestions to bear the loss of a Christian.

Remember the good times had with that dear saint. Gather with mutual friends and family members. Perhaps have a fellowship meal at someone’s house, or assemble at a funeral home, church building, or other convenient place. Mention their quotes, share their testimony, and relate their memorable life stories. Share with others how that departed soul impacted your own life. Above all, celebrate their graduation to glory, their relocation to Heaven! That Christian is no longer suffering any pain. He or she is free from these limited, debilitating, dying bodies of flesh and blood. There is peace and rest. Be sure to give a clear Gospel message for any unsaved people present. First Corinthians 15:3-4, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:23-28, and Romans 4:1-5 are highly recommended as verses to be read aloud. Suffering verses can also be shared—Romans 8:18-25, Romans 5:1-5, and 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8, to name a few.

The saints in Heaven are singing and praising the Lord Jesus Christ. They are enjoying His presence! All the deceased believers of the ages thus far are in one gigantic congregation in Heaven, and they do indeed recognize each other. Peter knew Moses and Elijah by face, and yet they had died centuries before Peter was even born (Matthew 17:4)! Paul anticipated knowing the Thessalonians and the Corinthians when they would be in Heaven (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20; 2 Corinthians 1:14). They know where they are, just as Paul realized he was in the third heaven and knew that it was “far better” up there than down here (2 Corinthians 12:1-4; Philippians 1:23).

We will see these dearly-departed saints again! Never forget, most importantly, dear reader, we will be reunited with them in the Lord’s own time! This is the hope of the resurrection, commonly called “the Rapture” (“catching up”). Our separation is temporary.

First Thessalonians chapter 4: “[13] But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. [14] For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. [15] For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. [16] For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: [17] Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. [18] Wherefore comfort one another with these words.(First Corinthians 15:50-58 can also be considered here.)

There is no doubt about it, friends. We sorrow, but we have confidence—full assurance—that a magnificent get-together will occur at the resurrection. We are not hopeless. We are not uncertain. We are not ignorant. The verses are clear, simple, and sure. Hold fast to them, repeat them, and let them renew your mind. The indwelling Holy Spirit will use these verses to strengthen your inner man (Ephesians 3:16). Using these passages in prayer will allow God the opportunity to give you His peace, and guard your heart and mind through Christ Jesus. “Be careful for [worry about] nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Without question, that Christian would want you all to move on in the ministry in their absence. They would want you to keep fighting the good fight of faith. If anything, may you not take your earthly lives for granted now. Strive together with each other—those of you in the Christian congregation remaining on Earth—to continue as that dear soul would do. Weep, cry indeed, but do not sit around and mope like a lost person. Do not stay cooped up in your house, always sobbing and wailing. We must get the Gospel of Grace out to the masses. We must keep teaching the Scriptures rightly divided to those who want to hear and believe.

Any and all spiritual confusion has been corrected in Heaven, as there are no more denominations and other opinions of men. There are “no hard feelings.” The next time you see that saint, all will be forgiven. No petty argument, envy, or contention will be there to divide or interfere with fellowship. Sin will be gone forever. The next time we see them, they will look, sound, see, and hear the best they ever have! No eyeglasses, canes, baldness, liver spots, hearing aids, crutches, arthritis, tremors, AIDS, tuberculosis, dentures, oxygen masks, missing limbs, wheezing, allergies, blindness, deafness, stooping, prostheses, walkers, limping, deformities, paralyses, wheelchairs, slurred speech, mental illness, scarring, amnesia, dementia, cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, sinus issues, emphysema, diabetes, or any other disease, disability, or deficiency. Obesity and leanness will no longer be problems. No more vitamins, supplements, blood work, checkups, surgeries, hospital stays, kidney dialyses, physical therapy. It is a magnificent prospect, and we will see it at some point ourselves, but until then we have unfinished business down here to which we must attend.

Until we meet the departed saints again, brethren, we have much work left to do—including ministering to their families in whatever ways we can (visiting, phone calls, preparing meals, and so on). These saints would want us to go on preaching the Gospel, speaking of Jesus Christ to all we meet, sharing with others the Word of His Grace, that they may believe on the Lord and be with us in Heaven as well.

In closing, here are two final passages worth considering and worth reading aloud at the close of any Christian funeral, wake, or similar gathering.

“Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight: ) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

Also see:
» How can we cope with the death of a pet?
» Will we know if a loved one is not there in heaven with us?
» Why did Jesus weep when Lazarus died?

Must I have a degree in music to sing or play an instrument at a local church?

MUST I HAVE A DEGREE IN MUSIC TO SING OR PLAY AN INSTRUMENT AT A LOCAL CHURCH?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Sadly, some have indeed been turned away from music in a local assembly or singing in its choir because they lacked formal training (a college degree, professional tutoring). This is an example of using human viewpoint to gauge church matters. (It is no different from the self-absorbed declaration, “You cannot preach at our church unless you have graduated from our denomination’s seminary or Bible College!”)

It is quite advantageous to have some familiarity with music if you so choose to become involved with a local church’s music ministry. Someone may say, “I can play the piano, but not that well.” Another may declare, “I sing solo—‘so low’ so others cannot hear.” In fact, this author will be quite bold in writing the following. As with some people who should not be teaching and yet are, there are some people who should not be singing and yet are. (It does not matter how many advanced degrees they have!!) If there is no underlying sound Bible doctrine, they would do themselves and others much good by staying quiet until they learn the truth instead of singing erroneous material. (Please see our “appropriate hymns” study linked at the end of this article.)

Colossians 3:16: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:18-19: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord….” As long as our heart attitude is right (faith in God’s Word rightly divided, not showing off or seeking worship ourselves), and we are singing or playing music in accordance with grace doctrine, this is really all that our Heavenly Father requires concerning a music ministry. God surely does not mind “amateurs.” As long as we are playing or singing from the heart, that is all that matters. God the Holy Spirit can sense our motives; let Him be the Judge, for He will surely do right!

The author is reminded of a time, many years ago, when one of his former pastors claimed a particular man in the assembly “was not a good singer.” However, the pastor would never insult the man to his face; rather, he would let the man sing at music time but spoke about it behind his back to other church members. The pastor prided himself as a professional, accomplished singer. Recently, this author learned that the pastor is now suffering from dementia. Failing memory caused him to retire from preaching and then from singing. He cannot remember how to sing or preach! As for the brother “who could not sing,” he is a friend of the author. The man is a Christian, and he undoubtedly loves the Lord and His Word. While not formally trained in music, he ultimately sang for the Lord’s pleasure. It made no difference if some condescending, fleshly preacher approved. Keep that in mind, friend!

As for those who seek man’s approval concerning any ministry in the church, we close with two verses. Firstly, “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God(Luke 16:15). Secondly, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ(Galatians 1:10).

Also see:
» What if I was never thanked?
» Which hymns are appropriate for us grace believers to sing?
» What is wrong with “praise and worship?”

Was Priscilla “lead teacher in her family?”

WAS PRISCILLA “LEAD TEACHER IN HER FAMILY?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Advocates of women preachers and Christian women teaching men point to assorted verses for Scriptural support. The case of Priscilla, a Christian lady of the New Testament Scriptures, forms the foundation for one of their arguments. Allegedly, she is “lead teacher in her family.” Is that so? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Priscilla appears on six occasions in a King James Bible (2 Timothy 4:19 shortens her name to “Prisca”). She is continually paired with her husband, Aquila. This Jewish couple was saved under the Apostle Paul’s ministry and served as his spiritual coworkers. Read the only passages that feature Priscilla:

  • Acts 18:2: “And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome: ) and came unto them.”
  • Acts 18:18: “And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.”
  • Acts 18:26: “And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.”
  • Romans 16:3: “Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:”
  • 1 Corinthians 16:19:“The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.”
  • 2 Timothy 4:19: “Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.”

Supposedly, since Priscilla’s name “always” precedes Aquila’s name, she was the dominant one in the relationship (and thus, the Bible teacher of her family). That is simply not true, as a careful reading of the Bible text shows us. When first introduced to us, Aquila comes before Priscilla (Acts 18:2). In journeys, she appears first (Acts 18:18). When being greeted, she is first (Romans 16:3; 2 Timothy 4:19); when greeting others, she is second, after Aquila (1 Corinthians 16:19). In the case of teaching, Aquila comes first, then Priscilla (Acts 18:26). Priscilla never dominates her husband with respect to teaching ministry or family. Aquila leads in teaching, just as God the Holy Spirit tells us in 1 Timothy chapter 2, Ephesians chapter 5, and 1 Corinthians chapter 11.

  • First Timothy chapter 2: “[11] Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. [12] But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. [13] For Adam was first formed, then Eve. [14] And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. [15] Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”
  • Ephesians chapter 5:“[22] Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. [23] For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. [24] Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”
  • First Corinthians 11:3: “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”

Thus, a woman who takes the lead in a local assembly or marriage/family does so due t one of two reasons: (1) no man has the courage to guide the church or marriage/family so she dominates, or (2) a man is leading but her flesh compels her to compete against him. Even though neither situation is ideal, it is better to have the first than the latter. Someone has to lead, so if the man fails, then the woman will have to step in. When no man was willing to be used of God as a prophet (speaker), then He resorted to employing women/prophetesses (Exodus 15:20; Judges 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chronicles 34:22; Isaiah 8:3; Luke 2:36). If neither man nor woman were available, the LORD God spoke through a donkey (Numbers 22:28-30)!

We can learn a great deal by looking to our first parents, Adam and Eve. Eve did not submit to her husband’s spiritual headship, and he was unwilling to be her spiritual leader. Overall, they both failed to function in their God-given capacities. Hence, the human race fell into sin! If the local church does not learn this lesson, if the family does not learn this lesson, if the marriage does not learn this lesson, you can be sure trouble and destruction will abound (1 Timothy 2:11-15—quoted earlier)!

Genesis chapter 3: “[1] Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? [2] And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: [3] But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. [4] And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: [5] For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. [6] And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”

Adam did not remind his wife of what the LORD God told him (Genesis 2:16-17), and Eve did not ask Adam what God told him to tell her. Eve listened to Satan’s evil doctrine, and Adam stood there—and did nothing to stop her. In fact, Adam went right along with his wife—she led him, and he let her usurp his role! Absolutely, Priscilla knew better than to repeat the gross error of our mother Eve… and Aquila knew better than to repeat the gross error of our father Adam!

Also see:
» Should women serve in the ministry?
» Should women speak in church? May they ask questions?
» Are Galatians 3:28 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12 contradictory?

“So shall we ever be with the Lord?”

“SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

A recurrent idea among Christians is that the Church the Body of Christ will return with the Lord Jesus Christ at His Second Coming. Various and sundry verses are offered as support. However, a careful examination of the Holy Scriptures demonstrates this to be a total misunderstanding of both the purpose of the Body and the objective of the Second Coming. (For more info, please see our related studies linked at the end of this article.)

Years ago, when this author began coming to the knowledge of the truth, better understanding the Word of God rightly divided, he struggled to make sense of the above matter. Were we returning with Christ at His Second Coming, as he had been led to believe for so many years? First Thessalonians 4:17 nagged him: “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” What should we make of the phrase, “so shall we ever be with the Lord?” Will we be physically “with” the Lord Jesus when He steps onto the Mount of Olives at His Second Coming? Will we be reigning “with” Him on Earth in Israel’s Davidic kingdom? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Like most individuals, this author assumed the “and so shall we ever be with the Lord” clause meant that we must be in close proximity to Christ at all times once we are raptured. After He takes us into Heaven in that split second of time (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), we will never again leave His side. Wherever He is, we will always be beside Him. Is that what “with the Lord” means in 1 Thessalonians 4:17? No, as this explanation is contrary to many verses in Paul’s writings (we will get to those shortly). First, we need to review the basics.

Creation consists of “heaven and earth” (Genesis 1:1). Offices govern both realms—thrones, dominions, principalities, powers, mights, and every name that is named (Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:16). Satan has usurped and corrupted these offices but Father God will bring them all under His authority again through His Son Jesus Christ. In “the dispensation of the fulness of times,” our Heavenly Father shall gather all governments under one Head, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10). He has thus formed the nation Israel to be His earthly people, and the Church the Body of Christ to be His heavenly people. It is one overall kingdom, functioning in two realms, for one eternal purpose! The Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified forever—regardless of the angels and the humans who refuse to participate and accomplish it.

We the Church the Body of Christ have a heavenly destiny not an earthly destiny. Our realm of blessings and influence is the heavenly places. Observe the following:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:1: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
  • Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:….”
  • Ephesians 1:20,22-23: “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,…. And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
  • Ephesians 2:6: “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:….”
  • Ephesians 3:10: “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,….”
  • Philippians 3:20: “For our conversation [lifestyle reflecting citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:….”
  • Colossians 1:5: “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;…..”
  • Colossians 1:16,20: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:…. And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
  • 2 Timothy 4:18: “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Consider all the above verses. We are installed to serve in the heavenly places prior to the Second Coming (in perfect accordance with Revelation 12:7-12—Satan and his angels evicted from the second heaven to make room for us there). Therefore, it certainly would not be appropriate for us to use one verse (1 Thessalonians 4:17) to teach that we will come down with Christ to reign on Earth with Him. So, what of “so shall we ever be with the Lord?” In what sense are we “with” Him? Let us quickly survey verses that show us how the English (King James) Bible employs “with” in sentences.

“WITH” (AS IN CLOSE PHYSICAL PROXIMITY, EXISTING BESIDE ANOTHER, ADJACENT OR NEIGHBORING)

  • Acts 8:31: “And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.”
  • Galatians 2:3: “But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:….”
  • Matthew 9:10: “And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.” (A similar idea is found in Matthew 14:9 and Acts 11:3.)
  • Matthew 4:21: “And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.”
  • Acts 11:12: “And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house:….”

(You may also consult Acts 20:14, 2 Timothy 4:11, John 13:18, Acts 9:7, Acts 9:19, Matthew 26:23, Mark 14:18-20, Acts 23:19, Philemon 13, and Acts 27:2.)

The above verses contain probably the most frequent definition of how we use the word “with.” Considering all that has gone before, however, there must be another sense 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is using the word. Our destiny is the heavenly places, recall.

“WITH” (ON THE SAME TEAM, JOINED IN ONE CONDITION, HAVING A SHARED PURPOSE)

  • Acts 16:34: “And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”
  • Romans 1:12: “That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.”
  • John 13:8: “Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.”
  • Philippians 2:18: “For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.”
  • Luke 11:23: “He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.” Matthew 12:30: “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”
  • Luke 1:58: “And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.”
  • Romans 15:30: “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;….”
  • 1 Corinthians 12:26: “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.”
  • Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

The idea in these verses is connecting to others around a common goal or experience—rejoicing with others, mourning with others, praying with others, trusting in God with others, and so on. Physical distance is not under consideration. We can do these things with others around the world, though they are quite far from us bodily. If we look at the Bible’s testimony as a whole, this seems to be the most probable notion being communicated by “with” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

CONCLUSION

First Thessalonians 4:17 says, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” The word “with” here is not to be understood in the sense of sitting face-to-face, or side-by-side with another. Scripture also employs the term as united around a mutual action or experience. There is solidarity or camaraderie, teammates achieving one end, fellowshipping as concerning one matter.

In Revelation 3:21, the Lord Jesus says to Israel, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Certainly, Christ is not speaking of one or two thrones in which He, the Father, and all believing Jews will sit around each other. Close physical proximity is not the issue—that would be most absurd. The idea rather is one of unity in reigning (as in, shared authority or mutual power). Redeemed Israelites are extensions of His earthly authority, just as we (the Body of Christ) are extensions of His heavenly authority. For us to be “with” Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:17) is not about us returning to Earth, but rather sharing His governmental influence in creation—namely, the heavenly places—as Israel will share His influence in the offices of Earth’s government.

One passage to summarize with now is 2 Timothy 2:10-13: “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” The “reigning with him” is defined in chapter 4 and verse 18 as entering “his heavenly kingdom.” (Notice the idea of teammates throughout these verses. There is no hint of next-door neighbors but individuals associating around a joint conclusion.)

The idea in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 “with the Lord” means we are on His team, ruling and reigning with Him, but in what realm? Paul’s epistles always speak of our (Body of Christ) realm as the heavenly kingdom. In the ages to come, the Lord will be exercising governmental authority and we will be too. It is all one enormous kingdom, spanning between Heaven and Earth, all to exalt Jesus Christ the Lord of glory. Lastly, remember, we can only be so close to Him physically. Millions of believers from the last 20 centuries will be in Heaven. We cannot all be within arm’s reach of Him, and yet we will be “with Him.” Surely, something beyond physical closeness is under consideration in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

ATTENTION: We have released our new seven-hour Bible study series—“The Feasts of JEHOVAH.” These lessons are approximately 65 minutes each, totaling 7 1/2 hours. They are quite advanced, as they build on our five-lesson series “Israel’s Covenants” I taught a month ago. It is best to watch all seven videos in order, as they are progressive. May you be edified, encouraged, and enlightened! Enjoy!! Praise our Lord Jesus Christ! Click here to watch.

Also see:
» Will we return with Jesus Christ at His Second Coming?
» Who are the “saints” in 1 Thessalonians 3:13?
» Can you compare and contrast the prophetic program and the mystery program?

Can you explain 2 Corinthians 5:16?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN 2 CORINTHIANS 5:16?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.” Many preachers have grown quite disappointed and angry after reading or hearing these eternal words of the everlasting God. Why? What is so controversial here? What exactly does it mean to “know no man after the flesh?” How can Jesus Christ be “known after the flesh?” How can He not be “known after the flesh?”

The “flesh” here is something physical and literal (as opposed to the Bible’s other usage of the term—“flesh” in Romans 8:1, for example, is a metaphor for our sin nature). Specifically, in 2 Corinthians 5:16, “flesh” is circumcised (Jew) or uncircumcised (non-Jew, or Gentile). In other words, it refers to the differentiation underscored in Ephesians chapter 2: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:….”

Verses 13-18 describe the Dispensation of Grace, the opposite of the previous two verses in the chapter: “[13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. [14] For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; [15] Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; [16] And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: [17] And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. [18] For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

In this the Dispensation of Grace, “but now,” there is no distinction between Jew (circumcision) and Gentile (uncircumcision). Almighty God only sees saved and lost, those in Christ and those in Adam, respectively. Turn to Galatians 5:6, “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” Now, Galatians 6:15: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” There is no longer an advantage of physical circumcision before God, and there is no more a disadvantage of physical uncircumcision before God. What He sees is the “new creature” (Galatians 6:15), the “one new man” (Ephesians 2:15), the Church the Body of Christ. These are all believers in Jesus Christ. God sees all unbelievers outside of that one Body. This is the only distinction God acknowledges today. Thus, 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Any fleshly distinction is not important before God; that old identity has passed away, and the believer gains a spiritual identity in Christ.

Knowing a man “after the flesh” and “though we have known Christ after the flesh” all relates to the “time past” distinction highlighted in Ephesians 2:11-12. Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, Matthew through John, operated on the basis of the division between Jew and Gentile, circumcision and uncircumcision, respectively. Ephesians 2:12 says we Gentiles (nations) were “without Christ.” Romans 9:4-5 says of the Jews, “and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came.” The “flesh” here is physically circumcised flesh, Jewish flesh. Christ’s earthly ministry was to the nation Israel only, and not to the nations (Gentiles). This can be easily proved from Scripture.

The Lord Jesus said in John 4:22: “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.” Notice the emphasis on “the Jews;” no Gentiles are in view here. Matthew 10:5-7: “[5] These twelve [apostles] Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: [6] But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. [7] And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Christ said in Matthew 15:24: “But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Romans 15:8 summarizes, “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision [Jews] for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:….” This expression, was a minister,” is key—it is past tense in the King James Bible (changed in modern versions).

Back to 2 Corinthians 5:16, “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.” We want to concentrate on the phrase, “yet now henceforth know we him no more.” Now, with Paul’s ministry (the “but now” of Ephesians 2:13), we do not know Jesus Christ according to His earthly ministry, when there was a difference between Jew and Gentile. The middle wall of partition has been removed—God Himself has abolished it. We know Jesus Christ according to His “all-man” (Jew and Gentile) ministry. Again, this new program began with the Apostle Paul’s ministry and message.

First Timothy 2:4-7: “[4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [6] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. [7] Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not; ) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.” (Pay special attention to verse 7. Paul is the “due-time testifier” of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for all sins—both Jew and Gentile. Prior to Paul, soul salvation was limited to Israel. See Isaiah 53:8 and Matthew 20:28, for example. Isaiah’s people and the “many” are Israel. No Gentiles are in view.)

Romans 3:22,29: “[22] Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:… [29] Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:….” Romans 10:12: “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” Titus 2:11: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,….” These “no-difference” statements, these “all-men” statements, could not be said of Christ’s earthly ministry. They were only true until the Lord Jesus Christ said them through Paul’s ministry. Notice more Pauline verses on this subject.

Romans chapter 1: “[5] By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:…. [14] I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. [15] So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. [16] For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Notice verse 5—“all nations.” Paul has an unrestricted apostleship to all nations. Contrast this with Peter and the 11 other Apostles, who had to preach to all Israel before going to all nations [Matthew 10:5-7; Matthew 28:18-20].)

Romans 16:25-26: “[25] Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, [26] But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:…..” (Verse 26 says “all nations.” Paul has a ministry to all nations, where Peter and the 11 had to evangelize all Israel before preaching to all nations [Matthew 10:5-7; Matthew 28:18-20].)

It is therefore dangerous for people to continue with their mindless chant, “I follow Jesus, I do not follow Paul.” To “follow Jesus”—specifically, they mean the Four Gospel Records (Matthew through John)—means to know Him today in a manner in which God says we do not know Him today. The middle wall of partition that was up during the Four Gospel Records has since been done away. God has temporarily suspended that distinction between Jew and Gentile. He has changed the dispensations, the instructions given to man. Conditions that were true in Matthew through John are not necessarily true today, so it is more appropriate that we follow the Apostle Paul as he follows Jesus Christ rather than we “following Jesus.” We are not exalting Paul; we are exalting the Jesus Christ whom Paul preached, the Jesus Christ as presented in the mystery truth committed to Paul’s trust.

Paul wrote the following verses as God the Holy Spirit guided him:

  • 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
  • Ephesians 5:1: “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;….”
  • 1 Corinthians 4:16: “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.”
  • Philippians 3:17: “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:6: “And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.”

We follow Paul as he follows Jesus Christ, and he follows Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery (Romans 16:25-26). Part of that revelation is that all believing Jews and Gentiles in Paul’s Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) form the one Church the Body of Christ. You are here strongly encouraged to read Ephesians 2:11–3:11, with special emphasis on the verses in chapter 3.

Yet, 99 percent of “Christian” preaching and teaching today is Matthew through John. They proclaim God’s Word to Israel as though it were God’s Word to us Gentiles. It is all about God’s program for Israel and yet they speak of it as though it were for the Church the Body of Christ! Jesus Christ’s ministry through Paul is almost, and sometimes entirely, ignored. No wonder there is no power of God in our churches and lives. We stay focused on things God is not doing today, stressing concepts that are no longer applicable to God’s will for man. It is either (1) back to Pauline truth, or (2) onward to more apostasy!

CONCLUSION

We do not know Jesus Christ after the flesh any longer. We do not know any person after the flesh any longer. Christ’s earthly ministry, based on the middle wall of partition, is not how people should relate to God or each other today. From the time the Dispensation of Grace began with Paul’s salvation and ministry, Almighty God has revealed to us (mankind) how to no longer know or relate to people according to their fleshly identity. Unlike “time past,” physical circumcision and physical uncircumcision are not the issue today in the “but now.” Rather, we understand people to be either in Christ (saved, going to Heaven) or in Adam (lost, going to Hell).

The Bible says, in this Dispensation of Grace, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. This was not true during Christ’s earthly ministry. Today, however, there is no spiritual advantage to being a Jew and there is no spiritual disadvantage to being a Gentile. Unless we recognize the radical dispensational change that occurred in the Book of Acts (particularly, with Paul’s conversion and commission in chapter 9), we will not understand that God is dealing differently with man today in the “but now” than how He dealt with him in “time past.” We will major on issues that God no longer emphasizes; we will ignore the issues that God currently upholds. Absolute confusion and disappointment are sure to result!

Also see:
» Did Peter and Paul preach the same Gospel?
» Did not God send messengers to Gentiles prior to Paul’s apostleship?
» How were Gentiles saved before our Dispensation of Grace?

Who are the “saints” in 1 Thessalonians 3:13?

WHO ARE THE “SAINTS” IN 1 THESSALONIANS 3:13?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 3:13, “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” Are these “saints” Christians or angels?

A King James Bible critic quibbled that the word “saints” here is “an unfortunate and inappropriate translation.” He continued, “It is not believers but angelic beings.” Beloved, there is absolutely nothing “unfortunate” or “inappropriate” about how the 1611 translators handled the Greek text here. Any and every dependable Greek dictionary defines hagios as “holy, set apart; holy things or holy ones [saints].” A related word and concept is “sanctification.” “Saints” is a perfectly acceptable translation of the underlying Greek. The problem is not with the translation, but with people who are so “scholarly-minded” that they do not know how to use the English Bible!!

Such detractors, as you probably noticed, assume that the Bible term “saints” can only apply to believers. This is a misconception. Not merely can people be set apart for God’s purposes, but angels can be sanctified too. Consequently, Scripture speaks of the “elect angels” (1 Timothy 5:21) as the holy angels” (Revelation 14:10). They are in contrast to “the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41; cf. Revelation 12:7,9) and “the angels which kept not their first estate” (Jude 6). Since there are holy (good) angels, it is not surprising to find God’s Word calling them “saints.” Remember, they are set apart for the purpose for which God created them—they serve Him.

Look for yourself: God has no problem calling good angels “saints!”

  • Deuteronomy 33:2: “And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.”
  • Job 15:15: “Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight.” Considering the connection to the “heavens,” these are angels as opposed to people. They are actually angels before they fell and followed Satan in his rebellion; hence, they have corrupted the heavens, or outer space (cf. Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 12:7-12).
  • Jude 14-15: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These saints are angels, not humans, not (Keep reading to see the parallel verses!)
  • Psalm 68:17: “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.”
  • Matthew 16:27: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”
  • Matthew 25:31: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:….”
  • Mark 8:38: “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
  • Luke 9:26: “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.”
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8: “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:….”
  • Revelation 19:14: “And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” (These are not Christians, but angels. Let the earlier verses govern the interpretation.)

WHY CHANGE 1 THESSALONIANS 3:13?

The critic denounced “saints” in 1 Thessalonians 3:13 because (as you saw) he contended that Jesus Christ returns with angels not Christians at His Second Coming. His critical remark was founded upon the notion that “saints” can only mean believers. Such a verse modification is wholly unnecessary. Our earlier brief survey of verses demonstrated that assumption to be incorrect. We do not have to change the Bible text to teach our favorite doctrine. Friends, that is heresy!! Actually, we should not adjust the Bible text to communicate our pet dogma; rather, we should modify our doctrine to fit the Bible.

(The justification for changing this verse is a misconception. Make note! The critical eye, quick to “correct” the Bible, does nothing more than pervert something that was originally sound. Good was perceived as evil, so changing it in an attempt to make it “better” actually introduces error that was never there in the first place.)

God’s Word is the final authority, not our opinions. How dangerous it is to alter the Holy Bible, when in God’s mind it does not change! Jesus Christ indeed does not return with Christians at the Second Coming, but we do not have to challenge or alter Scripture to show it. All we have to do is compare verses (we did earlier, and we will do more now).

OUR HEAVENLY DESTINY: THE HEAVENLY PLACES

We the Church the Body of Christ, those of us who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), our destiny is the heavenly places. If we are already in the heavenly places—and we are during the seven-year Tribulation—we have no reason to return to Earth at the Second Coming. We have already been established in the heavenly places, ruling and reigning for God’s glory. Notice our eternal destiny as members of the Body of Christ!

  • Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:….”
  • Ephesians 1:20-23: “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
  • Ephesians 2:6-7: “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
  • 2 Corinthians 5:1: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
  • 2 Timothy 4:18: “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Now, back to 1 Thessalonians 3:13!

WHO ARE THE “SAINTS” IN 1 THESSALONIANS 3:13?

As we observed, “saints” in Scripture can be a title for either believers or angels. The context indicates which one it is. As pertaining to 1 Thessalonians 3:13, “saints” is actually Christians. But, it is not speaking of any Christians—or even angelsreturning to Earth at the Second Coming (as often assumed—the error the aforementioned critic attempted, but failed, to correct). Actually, while the faultfinder was nitpicking and offering a “better” term, he was (in fact!) misreading the verse. He was doubly confused!

Read the verse carefully in context: “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13).

This speaks of us Christians being presented before Father God. After the Rapture, our gathering together unto Christ in the air (2 Thessalonians 2:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), we go to the Judgment Seat of Christ for our Christian doctrine and earthly service to be reviewed (Romans 14:10-12; 1 Corinthians 3:9-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10). After that, the Lord Jesus Christ will present us before the throne of His Heavenly Father. It is here that our Heavenly Father will appoint us to fulfill offices in the heavenly places. These roles will be consistent with our doctrine and service already determined at the Judgment Seat. Jesus Christ comes to Father God with His saints, Christians. Again, 1 Thessalonians 3:13 has nothing to do with Christians or angels at the Second Coming. The Second Coming is not in view here anyway.

CONCLUSION

Contrary to popular belief, the Bible does not restrict the word “saints” to believers or Christian people. According to some verses, angels can be set apart for God’s purposes as well. We must therefore rely on the context to restrict the definition (whether angels or people).

In the case of 1 Thessalonians 3:13, the word means Christians not angels. However, that is not to say that this verse says Christians will return at the Second Coming (another common misconception). First Thessalonians 3:13 is Jesus Christ bringing Christians from the Judgment Seat of Christ, to stand before the throne of Father God, so Father God can designate their (our) roles in the government of the heavenly places!! If you want to see more about this special event, see Ephesians 5:27 and Colossians 1:22.

Also see:
» Do we have guardian angels?
» How many angels will be with Jesus Christ when He returns?
» Do angels age?