Hi, I appreciate your site,my question is: What are your thoughts on what happened After 70A.D. if the saved were taken up who was left to preach the Word ? Or were they actually taken away physically? I know the Kingdom would never be destroyed,but how was it to be carried on? Your help in this matter is greatly appreciated.
Bill: Thanks for submitting this question. It is true that the saved were taken up at A.D. 70, but who and how? According to Revelation 20: 14, Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire, i.e. destroyed. This however was not physical death.
According to 1 Corinthians 15:54-55, and its background Old Testament text, the death over which the saints gained victory was spiritual death. See the contexts of Isaiah 25:8, where God destroys the veil or covering cast over the people.
That is a reference to the law or the ministration of death, noted in 2 Corinthians 3:7. Hosea discussing the sin-death of Ephraim, (13:1-2, 14,) declares God would ransom his people from the power of Sheol (Greek Hades), the realm of the unseen.
Because of sin, prior to A.D. 70, man could not reach his ultimate destination of God’s presence in death and hence waited for redemption while enduring the bonds of Hades. Remember David who had not yet ascended into the heavens?, (Acts 2:34). Yet, Christ, the firstfruits, broke the bonds of death, conquered Hades and held out hope for the dead ones having the keys of Hades and Death, (Revelation 1:18)
At the Parousia, those who died in faith (see Hebrews 11) would transcend its bonds and enter upon their heavenly inheritance in the kingdom, (9:15; 11: 39-40. It is God’s law that the saints transition to heaven through physical death, and not through rapture from the earth. Therefore the dead as in Abraham Isaac and Jacob with all the other Old Testament worthies, so entered upon their heavenly inheritance in the kingdom when Christ came, at which time the Jews were cast out of his covenantal presence, (Matthew 8:11-12).
However, it was not God’s purpose to “Rapture” the living from the earth in advance of physical death. Thus no transition occurred for the living for they were already translated into the kingdom. They only needed their transition from sin-death which began with the preaching of the gospel on Pentecost to be consummated. Such occurred in A.D. 70 when Christ returned.
The use of the terms “caught up” in reference to the righteous is accomodative apocalyptic language and involves no transition from the earth for living saints. Remember the Ephesians, (and by relationship all Christians) had been raised up together with Christ to sit with him in the heavenly places, Ephesians 2:5-6).
Physical death with Christ was not required. They had already died with him in baptism. Their life, hidden in Christ until the Parousia, was manifested or revealed at that time, (Col. 3:3, 4). Thus the focus is the consummation of that spiritual relationship with Christ already begun (Phil. 1:5, 6).
The Righteous Remained on Earth Sharing The Gospel
The saints then as now are required to preach the gospel on earth until such time as death overcomes us as it eventually did those who lived in the first century. The activity of evangelism is evident from Ephesians and Revelation.
“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages world without end Amen. (Ephesians 3:21 KJV). This means that souls are constantly being saved to bring glory and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is only possible as you say, in a kingdom which has no end, (Luke 1:31, 32).
Revelation teaches the same. After the old heaven and earth is destroyed, the text says, “And the nations of those who are [being] saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring [are bringing] their glory and honor into it. (Revelation 21:24)
This cannot be during the millennium (which at that time was past) for this verse describes events which follow those of Revelation chapter 20, which involves the millennium. Since the new heavens and earth have arrived, the old being destroyed, they cannot be in the millennium. The 1000 years reign ended at the return of Christ who ushered in the New World.
The verse therefore describes life on earth, after Christ’s return, when there would yet be people who defile, cause abomination and lie, per Revelation 21:27). That is not likely a scene in heaven, but depicts conditions of the unredeemed or lost yet on earth.
The Goal of Eschatology
The goal of eschatology, according to Paul was that as the “apostles” had carried about in their earthly lives the “death of Jesus” (the message and meaning in its practical application), 2 Corinthians 4:9, they looked forward to the “life of Jesus” being manifested in their mortal flesh, (2 Corinthians 4:11) i.e. their earthly lives.
Thus, the end goal of eschatology was not “glorification of life” from the earth Rather, it is the glorification of the life of Jesus on the earth, i.e. in the lives of believers in the eternal kingdom.