Rapture Debate- Preston’s Second Affirmative

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A Formal Debate on the AD 70 Rapture
A Formal Debate on the Question of a Rapture in AD 70


Formal Debate: Rapture Debate – Don K. Preston’s Second Affirmative
After numerous delays, here is my second affirmative in my debate with Ed Steven’s on the question of whether there was a literal rapture of the living saints in AD 70– Which Stevens affirms.
All caps for emphasis only.

DoA = Death of Adam
ToL = Tree of Life
A&E = Adam and Eve
A-D = Adamic Death

When I say “Ed says,” or “claims” I will give a 1-N–# with the heading number. Thus “1- N-#14″ is reference to Ed’s First negative, and his numbered point. If what he said is in his pre-debate answers, I will give it as (Answers-# ) to indicate the number of the question that I asked. “Preview” refers to his previews of my second affirmative.

1 – One of the stipulations that Ed demanded in our debate negotiations was that each man submit each presentation to the other for examination prior to publication. I was concerned about this, fearing that Ed would attempt to control the content of my arguments, claiming that I misrepresented him. My worst fears are realized. In his previews of my second affirmative, I have NEVER IN MY LIFE EXPERIENCED SUCH A (perceived) BRAZEN ATTEMPT BY ANYONE TO CONTROL THE CONTENT OF MY ARGUMENTS! He claimed (12 times!) that I misrepresent him. But his claims are based entirely on his unproven presuppositional concepts (penal death versus natural death) that demand proof . Unless he can prove his claim, my arguments stand. We shall see if he tries. Rest assured, Mr. Stevens will not control the form or content of my argumentation.

2 – In Ed’s first negative, he does not make a single argument until the SEVENTH PAGE- that is over half of his first negative! Prior to that he just tells you how important the DoA is to my paradigm and how he will destroy that. He talks about how bad the CBV is, and what I “should” be debating. He makes totally unproven claims. But, NOT ONE negative argument until the seventh page– over 4400 words of his allotted 6500 word count! He was clearly “killing time.”

3 – Then, Ed wasted another 500 words citing scholars who say Adam was forgiven. That means that out of his 6800 word count, Ed wasted almost 5K words, WITHOUT MAKING ONE EXEGETICAL ARGUMENT. Further, not one of Ed’s scholars engaged in exegesis. They merely stated their beliefs. But, catch this: Ed chided me (Preview) for citing Eusebius and other early sources who said the entire church escaped the destruction of Jerusalem, fleeing to Pella, (meaning NO RAPTURE!) but then returned to re-establish the church in Jerusalem. Ed said I should stick to scripture. So, he can cite non-Biblical sources, but I am not allowed? Very inconsistent and revealing.

4 – Ed complains that I did not affirm, but offered negative arguments. Read my proposition. IT CONTAINS A NEGATIVE: “versus a departure or removal of the then living saints from the earth.” See that? Ed approved this proposition, but now complains. I am completely within the parameters of my proposition to demonstrate the “negative” implications of my affirmatives or of Ed’s claims. Also, in answering Ed’s few negatives, it is necessary for me to make negative arguments.

5 – Ed admits that the Death of Adam is the key to this entire debate. Yet, he said I, “should” have debated other issues, WHILE ADMITTING THAT WHAT I PRESENTED IS THE FOUNDATION OF EVERYTHING! Inconsistent to say the least.

6 – In (1-N-#30) Ed agrees that Adam had to die the very day that he sinned: “whatever kind of death God threatened against Adam was to be executed upon him “in the very day” he ate from the forbidden tree. There is nothing ambiguous about this language. It is very explicit.”
However, in a FaceBook exchange, December, 2017, Stevens denied this, citing Dr. David Fouts to support his DENIAL that Adam was to die physically the day he sinned. This is a radical change.

7 – Stage Setting:
Stevens talks of penal death versus natural death. This is the ground of his accusation that I misrepresented him.
He says Adam physically died vicariously in the substitutionary animal sacrifice that God made. That was “penal death”- that he did not die.
Then, Adam died a “natural” death, over 900 years later.
Yet, that supposed “natural” death was the direct result of being cast out of the Garden due to sin and losing access to the ToL (1-Neg- #30). That is not “natural”; it is penal!
Another change by Ed. In his speech in Kansas City, (2011) Ed claimed that Adam was created neither mortal or immortal. But now, he tells us that Adam died a ‘natural death” which means he was created mortal.

8 – Look at the PENAL JUDGMENTS that would come the very day Adam ate:
✔ – He would die.
✔ – Come to know good and evil.
✔ – Being cast out of the Garden – from the To L.
Now watch!
Ed says (#1-Neg-33) Adam died spiritually the very day he sinned.
That Day they came to know good and evil – PENAL JUDGMENT #2.
That Day they were cast out of the Garden – PENAL JUDGMENT #3.
But, he says they did not die physically that day due to the substitutionary animal sacrifice.
So, Ed excludes THREE OF THE PENAL JUDGMENTS OF SIN from the benefit of the substitutionary animal sacrifice.

9 – Ed claims, (1-N–#42-45) WITH NO SCRIPTURAL PROOF, that A&E were forgiven through the supposed substitutionary sacrifice of the animal. Why did that supposed forgiveness not prevent those three penal judgments?
Stevens agrees Adam died spiritually that very day. If Adam died spiritually that day, HE WAS NOT FORGIVEN. His expulsion from the Garden – A PENAL JUDGMENT proves that. If he was forgiven, HE WAS RECONCILED. If he was RECONCILED, he should have been RESTORED TO THE GARDEN! Reconciliation demands that!

10 – Did Adam sin AFTER being cast out of the Garden? If so, why did he not die “that day”?
Was the blood of that first animal sacrifice effective for 900 years, but then lost its efficacy?
If the animal sacrifice prevented the physical (penal) death at the beginning, why wouldn’t more animal sacrifices postpone their physical death when they were 900 years old?
Why was the animal sacrifice effective in postponing their death only once?

11 – If Adam was forgiven as Ed claims, why did he still die physically – AT ALL?
Stevens admits (Answers-#10) that Adam died 900 years after the Garden, AS A RESULT OF SIN AND BEING CUT OFF FROM THE ToL. Thus, Adam’s ultimate physical death was absolutely a “penal punishment.” If physical death was prevented by the “substitutionary” sacrifice then the sacrifice did postpone that penal death for 900 years. It is illogical to deny that Adam’s ultimate death was penal when IT WAS THE RESULT OF SIN AND EXPULSION FROM THE GARDEN (A PENAL JUDGMENT).
So, why doesn’t the substitutionary death of Christ delay our physical death at least as long as the animal sacrifice delayed Adam’s physical death, i.e. 900 years– or for even one single day? Stevens totally ignored this.

12 – Ed posits “three kinds of death (physical death, spiritual death, and eternal death in Gehenna,” (Answers- #3).
Paul said “THE” death (SINGULAR- NOT DEATHS!) entered through sin (Romans 5:12). So, whatever kind of “THE” death (singular) entered the day of sin, IT HAD NOT EXISTED BEFORE SIN.
Stevens denies that physical death existed before Adam’s sin (2nd Preview).
Physical death supposedly entered the Day of Sin.
Stevens says Adam died a “natural” death, 900 years after his sin. But, there was / is nothing “natural” about his death OR OF ALL WHO FOLLOWED, since, “all men die, because all men sinned.” That is penal death.
If physical death entered that Day, (via sin) and passed to all men, there is no such thing as “natural” death. Stevens admits that Adam eventually died AS A RESULT OF SIN. There was nothing “natural” about it. It was 100% penal. PHYSICAL DEATH DID NOT ENTER THROUGH SIN. It was the death that Adam actually experienced THAT DAY– spiritual death.

13 – “The Death” that entered the day Adam sinned reigned from Adam to Moses.
Torah entered that sin- and death- might abound (Romans 5:21).
Paul said he had been “alive” before his awareness of Torah.
But, “the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” Like Adam, HE DIED THE DAY HE SINNED.
What death did Paul die through sin? He was clearly NOT FORGIVEN, (Romans 7:12-21). While he died a “penal death,” IT WAS NOT PHYSICAL DEATH.
If physical penal death is the result of sin, Paul was saying HE HAD DIED PHYSICALLY, which is specious.
He died spiritually.
That penal death is the focus of “the law of sin and death” from which Christians are freed.
If we are free from that law of sin and death, we will never die.
If physical death is involved, we should never die physically, demanding an on-going rapture– which is false.

14 – Stevens says Adam did not physically die that day due to the substitutionary animal death. But, he did die spiritually that day. (Half a substitution)!
So, the animal sacrifice was effective physically, but not spiritually. Why?

15 – Ed, did Jesus experience spiritual death – alienation from the Father – on the Cross? If Jesus did not die spiritually, then he only died half of a substitutionary death. He had to fully experience the A-D to be the substitution for our Adamic Death.

16 – You claim that Jesus died physically to deliver us from sin (Answers- #8)- thus spiritual death.
If he died to deliver us from A-D, then since you say A-D includes physical death, why are we not delivered from physical death?

17 – Ed claims (Answers #14) that Christians are not subject to the Law of sin and death.
But: The Law of sin and death said- You sin, you die -including physically- per Ed.
Per Ed, we still die because “we are all sinners.”
Therefore, logic demands that Christians are still subject to the Law of Sin and Death- in violation of Romans 8:1f.

18 – The Tree of Life. (ToL)
In preparation for this affirmative, since I had not asked my allotted 30 questions (Meaning I had a right to ask more questions without stipulations!), I asked Ed to share his views on the Tree. He adamantly refused, saying that UNLESS I SHARED MY VIEWS FIRST, he would not answer. Now, we had no such requirement for answering questions. Nonetheless, Ed refused to share his views, and continued to demand that I share my views on the Tree first. It was only after I repeatedly reminded him that we had no such agreements that he finally shared his views (email 4-19-19). Why? You will see.

19 – The ToL was lost in Adam.
The ToL is in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:1-3). The New Jerusalem is the Bride of Christ- THE CHURCH– not heaven.
That New Jerusalem, “came down from God out of heaven” and “the tabernacle of God is with man” (3:12; 20:10f; 21:1-3, 10) – after the Resurrection – versus a removal of the then living saints from the earth.
This New Jerusalem is the “abiding city” of Hebrews 13:12 that was “about to COME.” It was not “going,” but “COMING.”
Those in the New Jerusalem, THE CHURCH, in Christ, partake of the ToL today.

20 – If we do not have access to the Tree, Christ has not come.
The New Jerusalem has not descended.
The church is not married to Christ- but, the marriage was to be at the parousia and judgment of Babylon (Matthew 22:1-10 / 25:1f / Revelation 19:6f).
God does not dwell with us. But, He was to dwell with man in the New Creation post parousia.

21 – Stevens says, “access to the Tree of Life has not been restored to earth (‘because we are all sinners’” (Answers #11).
Thus, Christ did not restore what was lost in Adam. SIN STILL SEPARATES US FROM THE TREE! We are under the penal physical judgment- separation from the Tree!
That means there was no rapture, because that would mean that God raptured saints living under the condemnation of alienation from the Tree – Adamic Death!

22 – At the parousia the ToL would be made accessible to those in the New Jerusalem- the church.
The parousia was in AD 70 (Stevens supposedly agrees).
Therefore, the ToL is now accessible to those in the New Jerusalem.

23 – To partake of the ToL is to have eternal life.
Those in Christ have eternal life (John 8:51; 11:25-26).
Therefore, those in Christ are partakers of the ToL.

Since Christians today partake of the ToL, that means that we “never die.” Since it is prima facie true that Christians die physically, it must be true that the ToL is not for giving physical life.

24 – If the ToL gives physical life (Stevens), no Christian should die physically, thus necessitating an on-going, bodily rapture of those in Christ.
Since there is no bodily rapture of all faithful Christians today, then either Christians today have no access to the ToL, (meaning Christ has not come) or, the life that the ToL gives is not physical life.

25 – Stevens says as a result of sin Adam lost access to the ToL and died physically.
Stevens says that we today, LIKE ADAM, do not have access to the ToL, “because we are all sinners,” Thus, Christians, like all men, die physically – AS A PENAL JUDGMENT- (Romans 5:12)! There is no “natural death.”
Was the first generation of believers also “sinners”- cut off from the Tree? If so, why were those “sinners” raptured – never dying?

26 – Adam was cut off from the ToL due to sin, resulting in physical death – PENAL JUDGMENT.

The animal sacrifice prevented Adam’s physical death from occurring that day, but, it did happen 900 years later DUE TO ADAM’S SIN AND EXPULSION (Stevens). A PENAL – not natural – death!

Christ is our substitutionary physical death sacrifice (Stevens).

Yet, his sacrifice does not even do for us what the animal sacrifice did for Adam, postpone his physical death. Like Adam, WE ARE CUT OFF FROM THE TREE OF LIFE- “because we are all sinners.”

27 – Jesus said that if we obey him, we will NEVER DIE- which would demand on-going rapture. Yet, per Ed, we die “because we are all sinners” separated from the ToL.

28 – Through Christ’s blood we are forgiven, “RECONCILED” TO GOD – made nigh unto God (Ephesians 2:15f). (Once alienated – cast out –now reconciled). If we are “in Christ” reconciled to God, and dwell “in him,” how is it that we do not have access to the Tree, and still die physically? Is the ToL not “in Christ”? WHERE IS FORGIVENESS, RECONCILIATION AND LIFE?

Ed: If the Christian is reconciled and restored to God’s Presence through Christ, no longer alienated, why do we still die physically and why do we not have access to the ToL?

Will you answer?

29 – Adam died physically as a result of his sin & expulsion from the Garden and ToL – Stevens.
We today have no access to the Tree of Life “because we are all sinners” – Stevens.
Therefore, our physical death is a direct result of having no access to the ToL, “because we are all sinners” (Stevens).
There is, therefore, nothing “natural” about our physical death. It is a direct result of us “being sinners” alienated from the ToL!

30 – The wages of sin is ALIENATION AND D-E-A-T-H– NOT ETERNAL LIFE– having no access to the Tree: -“Your sins have separated you from you God.” (Isaiah 59:1-2). How can dying because we are sinners – alienated – result in anything except CONDEMNATION?

31 – Ed says that while we receive the wages of sin, physical death, “because we are all sinners,” nonetheless, WHEN WE DIE (AS SINNERS) WE RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE. But, Scripture says eternal life is “in him” (i.e. in Christ). If we do not receive life until we die, then we do not enter Christ until we die.

32 – ETERNAL LIFE IS “IN CHRIST” (1 JOHN 5:12F). TO ENTER CHRIST IS TO ENTER ETERNAL LIFE: “If a man believes in me, he shall never die” (John 11:25f). If Ed says this is spiritual life, that demands that we never die physically since he has told us that SPIRITUAL DEATH LEADS TO PHYSICAL DEATH. If we do not die spiritually because of Christ, then we do not die physically– thus demanding a literal, on-going, bodily rapture. This patently is not happening!

33 – Adamic Death (A-D) is “the last enemy” (“As in Adam all men die”- 1 Cor. 15).

Physical death was part of the Curse of Adam- resulting from his sin and expulsion from the Tree (Stevens).

Every Christian – like Adam – dies physically “because we are sinners” – cut off from the ToL (Stevens).

Therefore, every Christian is still subject to “the last enemy” – the Death Curse of Adam.

If physical death is the enemy, then until physical death is ABOLISHED – AND THAT IS NOT DONE BY DYING! – physical death remains the enemy of the child of God. Ed does not believe that physical death is EVER abolished. Thus, Christians forever remain under that Curse!

34 – My 1-A-# 27 – 1 Corinthians 15:26- “the last enemy to be destroyed” (from katargeo, abolished) at the parousia was A-D – (1 Corinthians 15:22f).

Stevens claims (#1-Neg-#33) that physical death is (part of) the Death of Adam.

Thus, physical death was to be abolished for those in Christ at the parousia in AD 70.

But, physical death was not abolished for those in Christ, at the parousia in AD 70.

Therefore, either the parousia – when “the death of Adam” would be abolished – has not occurred (falsifying Ed’s espoused preterism),


The Death of Adam did not include physical death.

35 – Stunningly, Ed emphatically denied that A-D was to be abolished for those in Christ at the parousia (Preview). (This may be the first time in history that anyone has denied that Adamic Death would be abolished at the parousia). Stevens might deny that A-D would be abolished for those in Christ at his parousia, BUT THAT WAS UNDENIABLY PAUL’S POSITION: “the last enemy to be destroyed is (THE) death.”
But then, in his 2nd preview, Stevens pivots and said A-D WAS ABOLISHED for those in Christ at the parousia. But, he said everything hinges on the definition of death. Okay, but in 1 Corinthians 15 THERE IS BUT ONE (“THE DEATH” IN VIEW- not three kinds of death. There is no bifurcation of A-D in the text.

36 – Ed says PHYSICAL DEATH IS THE RESULT OF SPIRITUAL DEATH. So, if spiritual death was abolished in AD 70, there cannot be physical death for the Christian. If we do not die physically, there should be 2000 year old saints running around, or, there should be an on-going rapture. If there is no rapture now, there was no rapture then, since the promise of never dying was not applicable to that generation alone.

And if spiritual death was abolished in AD 70, then “eternal death” was likewise abolished.

Physical death was not abolished for the Christian in AD 70. This is prima facie true.

It cannot be spiritual death, since you say physical death comes as a result of spiritual death.
It cannot be physical death- you actually posit the necessity of physical death for the reception of eternal life!
You deny that it was eternal death.
In fact, you say, “resurrection no longer applies to us”- (Answers #7). Well, if resurrection no longer applies today, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS “DEATH” IN ANY FORM, FROM WHICH WE MUST BE DELIVERED. There is not even “conversion resurrection” from sin-death (Ephesians 2:1f; Colossians 2:11-13). Universalism, anyone?
This is Ed’s dilemma. He cannot deny the continuing reality of physical death. Thus, he cannot deny the reality of spiritual death, since even Christians die because of sin.
So, Ed, tell us plainly, what Adamic Death was abolished for the Christian at the parousia? DO NOT FAIL TO ANSWER!

38 – My 1-F # 34 – Jesus said (John 11:25-26) that those who believe in him will never die. NEVER DYING MEANS NEVER DYING. How can dying “because we are all sinners” result in our reception of eternal life? Dying as sinners should not result in eternal life, but condemnation. DYING IN SIN IS SPIRITUALLY FATAL!

39 – My 1-A # 36 (Ignored). If Christ’s substitutionary physical death is applicable today, as Ed insists, then Christians should not die. This is inescapable. But, the inevitable physical death of every Christian demonstrates that Jesus’ substitutionary death was not related to physical death. His physical death does not postpone our physical death by even one day. Since Ed correlates the Death of Adam and that substitutionary animal sacrifice, with the substitutionary Death of Christ, then by all means, Christians today– SHOULD NEVER DIE.

40 – My 1 A #38 (Ignored) proved that if there was a rapture of non-dying saints in the first century, then they were the only ones to experience the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise of never dying and the application of his substitutionary physical death.
Ed, was Jesus’ promise that those who believe in him will never die, applicable exclusively to the first century saints?

Each of these arguments is fundamentally tied to the DOA. If the Death of Adam included physical death, (As Ed claims) then the fact that the Christian still dies physically proves beyond doubt that:
The Christian is not forgiven of sin, not reconciled, we are still alienated “because we are all sinners.” We are still subject to the law of sin and death, still subject to the Death Curse of Adam– still subject to the last enemy.
These are not straw man arguments – Ed knows it.

What Death Did Adam Know?

41 – Ed argues that A&E must have thought of physical death – not spiritual – because of the physical nature of the forbidden fruit. It was appealing to the eye, good for food, etc.. Ed claims: “It does not appear that she had any concept of spiritual death (sin-death) whatsoever. Her only concern appears to have been whether they would physically die from touching and eating the fruit.” (1-N-#37).
So, per Ed, THEY KNEW NOTHING OF SPIRITUAL DEATH . Yet, God imposed spiritual death on them. Must have been quite a shock!

Dying and Putting On

42 – One of Ed’s key arguments is that Adam died through the animal sacrifice, and by the putting on of the animal skins. He was delivered from death and forgiven. Stevens likens that to conversion, where we die with Christ and put him on in baptism (Romans 6- which is about resurrection life, that Ed says no longer applies). There is a massive problem here.

43 – If Adam died through dying with the animals and putting on those skins, thus preserving his life for 900 years, then how is it that when we die with Christ and put him on in baptism (Galatians 3:26-27), OUR PHYSICAL LIFE IS NOT EXTENDED BY EVEN ONE DAY? Was the death of those animals more effective than the death of Christ? Ed’s “penal-v-natural” argument fails here because he admits that we die physically “because we are all sinners.” Like Adam, we are separated from the ToL– a penal punishment!

44 – Ed agrees that if physical death was included in the threat to Adam, he should have died the very day he sinned. But, God offered a substitutionary sacrifice. Ed ignored every one of my arguments, claiming they are straw man arguments. He now claims I misrepresented him. No, my points stand, because Ed cannot prove his presuppositional delineation between Adam’s penal death and natural death (Preview on my 2-F -#28). This is proven by the fact that, like Adam, we supposedly die physically because “we are all sinners” which prevents our access to the Tree of Life- THE PENAL CONSEQUENCE OF SIN! I reject his unproven claims.

45 – Affirmation:
Those in Christ never die, possessing eternal life, being in the power of his substitutionary death.
Christ’s physical death was substitutionary (Stevens).
But, those in Christ still die physically and do not have eternal physical life.
Therefore, Christ’s physical death was not his substitutionary death – i.e. he did not die physically to prevent the physical death of those in him– or:
a.) His substitutionary death has failed, or,
b.) No one since his death has entered into the power of his death.

Which is it, Ed?

46 – Again– “If a man keep my saying, he shall never die.” If the physical death of Christ was substitutionary then no saint since the first century should have died physically. We should have 2000 year old saints among us. We don’t. For Ed to say that we do not die immediately because of the substitutionary death of Christ misses the point entirely. The question is: WHY DO WE DIE AT ALL?

Ed says that Christians “should” die physically the very day we sin (Answers-#11). But, Christians do not immediately die physically when we sin, as a result of the substitutionary death of Christ. Well, WHY THEN DO NON-CHRISTIANS, WHO HATE CHRIST, NOT DIE THE VERY DAY THEY SIN?

48 – ED, are non-Christians under the power of Christ’s blood? What keeps THEM from dying immediately upon sinning? Is the blood of Jesus being applied to the unbeliever in the same manner as the Christian? YOU MUST ANSWER THIS.

49 – All Christians die physically, JUST AS NON-CHRISTIANS DIE PHYSICALLY. This falsifies Ed’s “Penal versus Natural Death” argument. One can only conclude that the Christian is not truly forgiven of sin and still lives under the penalty of sin – physical death. If physical death was included in A-D, then since we experience physical death, “BECAUSE WE ARE SINNERS” that means that we must surrender to “the last enemy,” in order to then receive eternal life.

50 – Ed says (1 Neg. #39) that Adam: “should have been struck dead on the spot, in the same way Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead on the very day they lied to Peter and the Holy Spirit (Acts 5). God did that to Ananias and Sapphira, so why did he not kill Adam and Eve “on the very day they sinned”?”
His answer is: because of the substitutionary animal sacrifice.

Incredible! God provided an ANIMAL SACRIFICE as a substitute for Adam’s physical death. Consequently, Adam did not die physically.
In Ed’s scenario, the Garden animal sacrifice was undeniably more powerful than the substitutionary physical death of Jesus! This falsifies Ed’s “penal -V-natural” argument.

51 – Ed must deal with the issue of the substitutionary death of Christ and whether it was physical or spiritual. He says Adam died physically as a result of his spiritual death. But, that substitutionary animal death did not prevent Adam’s spiritual death or his physical death 900 years later, WHICH WAS PENAL JUDGMENT OF BEING EXPELLED FROM THE GARDEN. Further, Christ’s substitutionary physical death does not prevent us from dying physically, “because we are all sinners” separated from the ToL– A PENAL JUDGMENT.

52 – My affirmative:
To be in Christ is to no longer be subject to the law of sin and death.
To be in Christ is to never die.
To be in Christ is to possess eternal life.
To be in Christ is to be reconciled.
To be in Christ is to have access to the ToL.
To be in Christ is to be delivered from Adamic Death.

All of these points– fully established – prove that Christ’s substitutionary death was not his physical death. Thus, the Death of Adam was not physical. This establishes my proposition.

53 – Let me now re-affirm my “Gathering” arguments. Ed’s excuse for ignoring them was that my arguments were not fully developed. Obfuscation. My arguments were sufficiently “self contained” for him to respond; he should have.

54 – I demonstrated that the doctrine of the gathering must be viewed from the perspective of the OT prophecies, since all NT promises of the eschatological consummation spring from the Tanakh. I focused on a distinctive Greek word “episunagogee” and cognates.

55 – Affirmatively: The OT prophecies of the eschatological gathering (episunagogee) refer to a spiritual gathering, a covenantal gathering into fellowship with the Lord with man on earth and God in heaven. (The restoration of the fellowship that was lost in Adam) – Versus a bodily removal of man from the earth.

56 – Since the Tanakh promised the gathering and that gathering was not a literal removal of man from earth, then, when Jesus and the NT writers anticipated the eschatological gathering in fulfillment of those OT prophecies, they were not anticipating a bodily, geographical gathering, or, a removal of man from the earth.

57 – In my first Affirmative I examined two major OT prophecies of the eschatological gathering.

58 – Psalms 102 is a prediction of the coming of the Lord in glory (v. 16-17), the glorification of Zion (v. 21), when heaven and earth would be destroyed (25f).
Verse 22 it says it would be when the people and the kingdoms are “gathered together (episunagogee) to serve the Lord.”
This was fulfilled in AD 70.

59 – We thus have the “gathering of the people and the nations” at the Day of the Lord. But, it is the gathering of the people for serving the Lord – in Zion. God’s people are depicted as “gathered” to Him in the kingdom on earth, in Zion, “the church of the living God.” In Hebrews 12:21f we find that the first century saints, on earth, were receiving the kingdom, and: “You have come to Mt. Zion.” They had not been removed from earth, or physically traveled to Zion, but were awaiting the imminent coming of that perfected kingdom TO THEM (13:14)! There is no removal of the saints from the earth. ZION – THE CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD – WAS COMING TO THEM.

60 – Isaiah 27:13

“So it shall be in that day: The great trumpet will be blown; They will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria, And they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt, And shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.” (The holy mount is Zion, as in Psalms 102).

The word episunagogee does not appear here. However, virtually all scholars agree that in Matthew 24:31, Jesus cites Isaiah 27:13: “The Son of Man shall send forth his angels with the sound of the great trumpet, and they shall gather together (episunagogee) the elect.” So, we have the gathering of the elect – to Zion – at the coming of Christ in AD 70. Chapter 24:31 is Christ gathering together the obedient to himself. What kind of gathering is this? For the answer, we turn to Matthew 23:37 and then to Matthew 25:31-32.

61 – Matthew 23:37 – “Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I would have gathered your children together (episynagagein, from episunagogee) ) under my wings, as a mother hen gathers her chicks, but, you would not.” Here is Jesus’ desire to gather the “children” to himself. They refused as a nation, but, not all of them did. Thus, at his coming, he gathered those who accepted him.

62 – In 23:37 Jesus was not saying that he had wanted to remove his audience from earth. He was saying he wanted to gather them into a covenantal fellowship. This is critical since Matthew 23:37 serves as the controlling context for the gathering in 24:31.

63 – Matthew 11:28-29 is helpful: “Come unto me all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The “rest” here is the common word for Sabbath rest. Jesus was offering the rest of salvation – fellowship with him. Jesus said “come to me.” That is not a physical traveling, nor a rapture.

64 – If, in 23:37, he expressed his desire to gather them into a covenant fellowship with him, into his rest, then that means that 24:31 is that same kind of gathering. It is NOT a rapture.

65 – So, affirmatively, the OT predicted the gathering of the saints and nations to the Lord, in Zion, into a covenant fellowship with Him. Negatively, that was not a bodily rapture of man from the earth. That is confirmed by the next text.

66 – Matthew 25:32

Matthew 25:32. At the coming of the Son of Man– of Matthew 24:29-31 – ALL THE NATIONS ARE GATHERED (synachthēsontai- future tense of episunagogee). This is based on Isaiah 66:18, where at the Day of the Lord, “I will gather (from sunagagein, LXX ) all the nations.” It is patently the same gathering as 24:31. Unless Ed can demonstrate otherwise then it is the fulfillment of Jesus’ desire in 23:37.

67 – So, from Isaiah 27 to Matthew 23:37, to 24:31 to 25:32 we have a consistent usage of the gathering (episunagogee and cognates). There is no hint of a literal rapture. A rapture is excluded.

68 – Matthew 24:31 is the gathering at the Day of the Lord.
Matthew 25:32 is the gathering at the Day of the Lord. Based on Matthew 24:31.

Now, if the gathering of 24:31 is a literal removal of the saints from the earth, then logically, at the coming of the Lord in AD 70 (AD 66 per Ed) ALL THE NATIONS WERE LITERALLY BODILY GATHERED. That did not happen.

69 – Matthew 25:31f is = to 24:31.
The saints in 24:31 are the obedient. The rewarded ones in 25:32f are the obedient.
Those in 24:31 are gathered into the kingdom (Matthew 13:39-40); The obedient in 25:32f are gathered into the kingdom.
If there is no difference between these texts then Ed must argue that ALL NATIONS WERE LITERALLY, BODILY removed from earth in AD 66!

70 – So, just as the gathering of Matthew 23:37 was a spiritual gathering into the blessings of Christ’s body, (it is ludicrous to suggest that Jesus was speaking of a geographical gathering) the gathering of Matthew 24:31 was a spiritual gathering as well. To suggest that Jesus radically altered the meaning of episunagogee in Matthew 23:37, from a spiritual gathering to a literal, bodily gathering in Matthew 24:31 or in 25:32f, would be incongruous and demands proof.

71 – 1 Thessalonians 4

Let’s apply this to 1 Thessalonians 4– IGNORED BY ED- amazingly so since 1 Thessalonians 4 is supposed to be his key text for his rapture theory.

The gathering of the saints, the harpadzo, (the catching) of 1 Thessalonians 4 is the gathering of the saints of Matthew 24:31 and Matthew 25:32f.

The gathering of the saints in Matthew 24:31 and 25:32 was not a bodily removal of the faithful saints from the earth.

Therefore, the gathering of the saints, the harpadzo in 1 Thessalonians 4, was not a bodily removal of all the faithful saints from the earth.

72 – I demonstrated that to counter my “gathering argument” Ed would have to establish the following:

That 1 Thessalonians 4 is a different kind of gathering from that foretold by the OT prophecies.

That in the chain of usage of episunagogee, a literal rapture is demanded, or that there are different kinds of gatherings, some non-literal (spiritual), some literal.

That “all the nations” were literally raptured in AD 70.

That the gathering of all the nations is not the gathering of 1 Thessalonians 4.

Ed (admittedly) totally ignored all of these arguments.

73 – Isaiah 56:6-8

Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants— Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And holds fast My covenant— Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet I will gather to him (sunagago) others besides those who are gathered to him.

This is the gathering of Israel and the nations. Where would they be gathered “to”? To Zion and the Messianic Temple. This text is echoed often in the NT.

74 – The Messianic Temple is the church – on earth (2 Corinthians 6:16– “you are the temple of God, as it is written.” (The focus of these prophecies is not “heaven” but, the establishment of God’s Temple on earth).

75 – That Temple is / on “Zion.” Just like Psalms 102 and Isaiah 27, the nations and the saints are gathered “to Zion.” Note again Hebrews 12:21– “You have come to Mt. Zion… THE CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD.” They patently had not traveled physically to literal Zion. They were BEING GATHERED TO THE ABIDING CITY (the church) THAT WAS NOT LEAVING EARTH, but, “we have here no abiding city, BUT WE SEEK ONE THAT IS (ABOUT) TO COME” This is NOT the church being taken from the earth. It is the eternal city – THE PERFECTED CHURCH – (containing the ToL) coming down from God so that God and man would once again be in fellowship – on earth – Revelation 21:1-3:

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

76 – Affirmatively, Isaiah 56 depicts the last days gathering (sunagago) of the saints and nations “to Zion” and the Temple of God. That gathering WAS ALREADY TAKING PLACE IN THE FIRST CENTURY– “you have come to Mt. Zion.”

77 – Negatively, that was undeniably NOT a removal of the saints from the earth. The climax of that then on-going gathering was to be the heavenly Zion COMING DOWN FROM GOD, OUT OF HEAVEN, FOR GOD TO ONCE AGAIN DWELL WITH MAN ON EARTH. The saints were not going up, God was coming down. There is no rapture!

78 – John 11:51-52 provides commentary:

Being high priest that year (Caiaphas, DKP) he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together (sunagagee) in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.

79 – Affirmative: Jesus came to gather together (sunagogee) the children of God. Ed knows this was not referent to a geographical gathering. This is Matthew 23:37.

80 – Unless Ed can prove that these NT texts differ from the OT prophecies and do predict a literal rapture, there was no rapture in AD 70.

81 – Hosea 5:15-6:1-3

“I will return again to My place Till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” Come, and let us return to the Lord; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight. … He will come to us like the rain,” (All emphasis mine).

81 – 1- Through sin Israel “departed” from the Lord. Consequently, YHVH departed. It is patently obvious that neither Israel or the Lord bodily departed from each other.

81 – 2- The “return” of Israel would be a return to obedience of the Lord’s word- the Lord’s “return” would be the restoration of His covenantal favor.

81 – 3 – Israel expresses her faith that if she repents, “He will come to us.” This is the return of the Lord, to once again dwell with Israel- in covenant fellowship with Israel, on earth. He had “departed” from them as a result of her sin. His return WAS NOT TO REMOVE HER BUT TO DWELL WITH HER ONCE AGAIN – God and man in fellowship on earth.

81 – 4- Hosea 6 is the ground for the prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as well as the source of Paul’s resurrection doctrine (1 Corinthians 15:54-56). Paul is setting Christ forth as the representative of Israel who was dead (Hosea 13:1-2- “When Ephraim sinned, he died”). In Christ, Israel would be raised: “he will raise us up and we will live in His sight.”

81 – 5 – This is Eden recapitulated. Adam sinned and died by being cast out of the Garden of God. He did not die physically.
Israel sinned – and died (cf. Hosea 6:7–> Hosea 13:1-2), by being cast out of her “Garden.” That was not biological death.

81 – 6 – The “raising” in the text is being raised out of sin death – covenantal death. It is the restoration of covenantal fellowship between God and man – God coming to dwell with man, “He will come to us.” He would dwell once again with them in the same manner as before He departed. That is fellowship on earth, between God and man.

81 – 7 – So, affirmatively, in a foundational OT resurrection text, we find the promise of the coming of the Lord to “raise up” the dead, by restoring them to covenantal fellowship, on earth. Negatively, per my proposition, that raising was not a rapture.


82 – Ed admittedly ignored the majority of my arguments. I have directly addressed his key arguments.

83 -Instead of answering my arguments, Ed wasted almost 5000 words, simply ridiculing my views, admitting that he was not going to address them. Ed did not make even one substantive exegetical argument.

84 – It is Ed’s responsibility to now address every one of my arguments as he promised. Will he do it?